The 3 biggest trends in Digital Media right now


A week ago I got an email from a student of Digital Media at Hyper Island in Karlskrona, Sweden. She wanted to ask me several questions for one of her projects, and I hope that the answers I sent was somewhat userfull. One of the questions were “What are the biggest trends in digital media right now? and what’s coming?”, and after thinking about that one a bit I came up with this rambling answer…

  • The culture of digital natives are starting to invade the mainstream. That means that content that are currently on youtube and other similar sites are soon going to be much more available for the general public. Fiction made for the web (webisodes etc) are going to start competing with old school media (TV series and cinema movies). We are yet to see the first mainstream hit, but there have been a couple of underground hits already (Dr Horrible for example). It has for many years now been possible to cheaply produce quality media by a small team or by yourself from your house, and soon we are going to see the big effects of this.
  • Worldwide increased bandwidth and connectivity. In the western part of the world this means more bandwidth, in large parts of Africa/Asia this means that people get online via mobile devices in ever increasing numbers. This will probably affect the media and services available in two ways.  First of all increased bandwidth is going to push ever more rich experiences onto the web in a more efficient and broadly available manner. Some years down the line this means the death of TV as we know it today as well as many many bad experiments with new GUIs as developers and designers are trying to figure out what to do with all this new bandwidth. That people in the 3rd world are going online also means that web services that are simple and usefull will have a great potential, services that are usefull to farmers in the Indian countryside but not to European urban youngsters.
  • The (somewhat) success of the Kindle and the digitalization of books is just a first step towards the death of the printed book as we know it – at least the current printed book business model, not the actual physical existence of a printed book. Already 3 industries (software, music, movie) have tried to fight the new technology to keep old business models alive, and they have all failed. You can try to stop “evil” new techology (like the VHS, or the Pirate Bay), but unless you change with it you will loose. The book industry have to decide what to do when books starts to be ever copyable pieces of content (just as music is today). The old business model where publishers print paper editions of books will die, the question is how the industry deals with this. The early signs is that they are trying to fight the new technology instead of accepting and using it, and that is a bad sign for the publishers.

As you noticed I didnt mention trends like the end of the newspaper industry as we know it or mashups or anything like that, I do think that the trends above do have a bigger impact and/or are more interesting.

What do you think? Did I get things somewhat right or completely wrong?

The Evolution of Mashup Development – From Hacking to Assembling


The current trends are more that business users gets more abilities to solve their own problems and for programmers to give the business users the tools to do so. There are some tools like this already that are very popular (see Explaining Enterprise Mashups), but we have only seen the start of this development. These trends will change the roles for both programmers and business users in fundamental ways and it is interesting to see how that could play out. This is one likely scenario of what will happen during the next couple of years.

Programmers were building applications and integrations by programming. There were very little finished modules to reuse and combine, so a lot of logic had to be written from scratch (most talk about code reuse is nothing but talk). This was not only Mainframes and Cobol, but also a lot of Java, C++ on Windows and Solaris etc.


Programmers building applications using ready made modules. These modules might be full applications, libraries or, in some cases, widgets. This means that less logic needs to be written from scratch (Apache Jakarta projects have changed the lifes of most Java programmers for example).

In 1-3 years (early adopter geeks today)
Programmers and early adopter business users are assembling solutions using ready made components. These solutions are called mashups today, but are probably not going to have that name in a few years, instead the “mashup style” of solution development are going to have become mainstream and be a natural part of applications (just see how mashups are built with Facebook Applications today). The components are widgets that have been developed by programmers to function as building blocks in bigger solutions.

In 3+ years
Business users are assembling solutions, programmers are building widgets.

From Hacking to Assembling
Of course there will always be programmers that are programming low level solutions like kernels and compilers (at least those are low level to me) and business users that just want their problems solved without them having to deal with any technology. But overall the focus for programmers will go from building the solution to building the building blocks (aka widgets). For business users the focus will go from waiting for a program that solves their problem to be developed to being able to assemble a solution (aka mashup) that will address their problem. Overall the focus will move from hacking to assembling.

Great Tools for Business Users Needed
This means that business users need to be more aware of what building blocks are available. Currently there are a few early attempts to develop systems to handle this – IBM’s Mashup Hub is a good example. Furthermore there is a need for easy to use systems for business users to combine all those widgets. This is probably the hottest area in mashups right now, with everyone wanting to be in on this – BEA Pages, IBM QEDWiki, PageFlakes and iGoogle to just mention a few. But so far it has been with very limited success and just a little more than proofs of concepts or cool AJAX playgrounds. Let’s see what will happen in 2008, I for one if looking forward to seeing new cool innovative solutions to these problems.