Future trends

Blockbuster stores to close

The recently announced Blockbuster store closings will cut about 20% of the firm's stores. Blockbuster plans to replace them with kiosks and smaller stores in more densely populated urban areas. Blockbuster also has a Netflix-style subscription service, but will only one-fifth the customer base of Netflix.

Knowledge Democracy:

Did you know? Making the case for broadband

The "Did you know" video has been around for years, but I just noticed it has been updated recently. It's worth watching again, and really should be required viewing for community leaders who are skeptical that community investments in broadband are important for economic development and jobs growth.

Technology News:

Will the iPad or iTablet save newspapers and magazines?

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Knowledge Democracy:

Barnes and Noble readies Nook book reader

Barnes and Noble is about to release an ebook reader called Nook. The bookseller and publisher wants to compete with the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader. It is easy to find people who say they love their Kindle, but I remain skeptical. I do think that within a few years, we will reading many more books using some kind of reader device, but I think the long-rumored Apple tablet is likely to crush these dedicated devices.

Knowledge Democracy:

Good news: Planet Nibiru is not going to destroy the earth in 2012

In case you have been worrying about Planet Nibiru swinging too close to earth and destroying the planet in 2012 (just two years away!), the good folks at NASA have a handy FAQ on the whole 2012/Nibiru/doomsday thing. In case you have been living off the grid and only just yesterday got an Internet connection, the new movie "2012" posits that the mysterious planet Nibiru makes its every 3600 year swing near earth and just about wrecks the planet.

Technology News:

Will the Internet get the flu?

We've been telling our clients for over a year that they need a plan for a pandemic in which people are told to stay away from the office and work from home. But the Internet was never designed for that--at least not the cheesy "entertainment" Internet that most of us have at home.

Technology News:

Broadband is killing TV, slowly but surely

A sure sign that interest in TV is waning is the fact that major media firms like Disney, Viacom, CBS, and Time Warner have announced a partnership with some of the biggest advertisers in the country (Proctor & Gamble, AT&T, Unilever) to create a new ratings system that will more accurately measure viewer habits. The current Nielsen system is decades old, and the complaint is that it does not accurately measure the effect that DVRs and broadband are having on viewing habits.

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Knowledge Democracy:

Beginning of the end for Twitter?

Michael Jackson's death crashed Twitter and several other online services, demonstrating the popularity of these things. But Twitter may be about to peak, as one company prepares to sell Twitter followers to advertisers.

Email--not all it's cracked up to be

There are two kinds of spam--the obnoxious stuff that is clearly junk, and then what I call "legitimate" spam, although the word "legitimate" is probably not the right word to describe it.

Every morning, I have to wade through a bunch of email from legitimate firms offering legitimate services--business seminars, webinars, conferences, deals on their products. All real stuff, but also stuff I'm rarely interested in.

Blogs predict the future of social networking

A story in the New York Times about the decline in blogging suggests the future of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools. It turns out that only about 5% of all identifiable blogs have been updated in the past 120 days. Put another way, 95% of blogs have been abandoned for all intents and purposes. I have always maintained that blogging is about writing, not about publicity or fame. If you like to write, blogging is easier (though not necessarily easy).

Technology News:

Hulu Desktop is the future of "TV"

I downloaded and installed Hulu Desktop this weekend, and I have seen the future of TV. The folks that designed this paid careful attention to the user interface, and the overall look and feel of this software is terrific. It is easy to browse, and you can drill down quickly into a specific area (e.g. Movie Trailers, TV Shows). I have a feeling the designers spent a lot of time looking at the iTunes Store and Apple's Cover Flow interface, because there are not only similarities, but improvements.

Disintermediation: Who loses in the TV wars?

Hulu continues to push the envelope. The popular streaming video site has a lot of TV shows on it, and it just released a Macintosh application so that you can watch TV shows on Hulu without the bother of using a Web browser. It means a better viewing experience with higher quality.

Let the netbook wars begin

Nielsen: 2000% increase in video delivered by the Internet

A new report by Nielsen says time spent watching video online has increased in the past five years by 2,000%. And the number of people watching video online is increasing by 10% per year, meaning in about seven years, everyone will be watching video on the Internet. TV is dead, dead, dead.

The YouTube problem

A recent report says YouTube is losing more than a million dollars a day. Even for Google, that eventually adds up to a lot of money. Since Google acquired YouTube, the advertising giant has begun including advertisements on YouTube pages as well as embedding ads in some videos. But the huge cost of dishing out video to the world is still much higher than the ad revenue earned.

I think there is a longer term problem that will eventually force YouTube to change direction or even fade away: YouTube fatigue.

Good-bye to the video store

I finally signed up for Netflix, largely because the local Blockbuster has fewer and fewer movies these days. And I'm not the only one that has noticed that the video store chain seems ill. Despite the fact that Blockbuster claims it does not have late fees, the company continues to annoy customers by simply billing your credit card for the full retail value of a late movie.

Music, videos, newspapers, books: Going, going, gone

The Kindle (version 2) is getting rave reviews, and Amazon has released a version for the iPhone. It suggests that we may be seeing the beginning of the end of the era of the book. Unlike music, videos, and newspapers, I don't think books will disappear entirely. Think of art and architecture books, how to books with lots of pictures and illustrations, certain kinds of specialty topic books.... but the Kindle hints that printing books on paper is about to become much less common.

Technology News:

Computer vs. TV: Why the computer won

Paul Graham has a short, cogent article about why TV has the lost the computer vs. TV wars. He has several reasons, but two key ones are that things like BitTorrent and YouTube have trained people to watch video on computers, and the social, interactive features of things like FaceBook, blogs, and email really do connect people in a way that is impossible with TV. A good read.

Technology News:

Is iPhone the interface?

Ed Dreistadt sent me this link about using the iPhone as an in-vehicle interface for information like tire pressure and reminders about changing your oil. One key design feature of the iPhone is its interoperatbility--it has WiFi, so it can talk to any other WiFi device, it supports standard email and Web data, and it has an open software API so it is fast and easy to write custom applications for the iPhone.

The newspaper really is dead

Here is a clever analysis of the financial woes of the New York Times. It turns out the Times, which is mired in red ink, would do much better financially if they gave most of their subscribers an ebook and let their readers download the paper every day.

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