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As I’ve stated in many a blog before this one, the times they are a’ changing. Whether we as a species are growing and changing and adapting our technology and media to suit our needs, or just the opposite; we are a byproduct of our technology; we are changing.  Our children now grow up with technologies that would have blown peoples minds 50 years ago.  Where will this take us?  From Augmented reality, to targeted advertising, we seem to be witnessing a fundamental shift in the way we interact with the world and vice versa.

Augmented Reality

Dan Cooper from the Center of Media Design recently visited our class to speak about augmented reality.  Augmented reality is basically a blending of the physical and virtual worlds.  Dan showed us a video that will revolutionize repair work.  He showed us a video in which a BMW mechanic wore augmented reality goggles.  The goggles overlay in 3d space the parts of the BMW under the hood.  They then showed him exactly which parts needed to come out, exactly where the screws are in 3d space, and the proper tool for the job.  I imagine a world where this applies to more than just BMW’s.  This technology could be applied to anything from simple home repairs to brain surgery. Image.

Mobile Marketing

In our class readings, we read about the development of an augmented-reality contact lens.  In the future this could be used to help the disabled, particularly, deaf people.  With enough processing
power, this device could translate speech in real-time to a deaf individual, bringing them right into the conversation. Smart Phones are the likely choice for early augmented reality applications.

 

Smart phones are becoming more prevalent in society every day.  Eighty-four percent of American adults own cellphones; 38 percent of those people own smartphones.  This is a huge market that advertisers should be and are taking advantage of.

People are no longer relying on computers for their internet and information needs.  People are on their phones constantly.  The companies now have access to the user’s geographic information, and can now tailor the advertising to their specific location.  Think about it, when is the last time you used a physical phone book to look up a number?  I certainly can’t remember.  Just a few days ago I left my keys at the local Red Lobster.  All i needed to do was pick up my android and say “call Red Lobster, Muncie”, and I was connected.  Our phones do a lot for us, and we rely on them for practically everything.  This is why mobile marketing is the future of advertising.

When you consider the fact that there are four times as many cellphones in the world as there are computers, this is not a surprising trend.  Some new innovations are on the way, such as using your mobile phone o pay at a cafe, and text coupons.  The future of advertising is already in your hand or pocket.

 This is creating a problem in the job market.  With the rapid growing rate of the expansion of mobile usage, there is now a shortage of people who have the necessary skills to fill job openings among these technology-rich ad agencies.  According to our readings, universities are not giving students the skill-sets necessary to enter these new technological marketing jobs.  Entry-level positions in this field can fetch up to $100,000 annual salaries right out of the box.

 

Interactive Design

A few weeks ago our class had the pleasure of receiving a guest lecture from Megan McNames, assistant director of Journalism Workshops at Ball State University, where she also teaches web design and interactivity for the Department of Journalism and Digital Media Minor.  Ms. McNames gave an enthralling lecture about the importance of design interactivity.  The most interesting thing that she mentioned was the implementation of eye tracking software to help better design things such as web pages and ads. 

Eye tracking can be used for a whole host of applications.  A small device is fitted around the wearer’s head.  The subject then views webpages as normal and the technology measures the movements of the eyes to determine where the subject looks first, and most frequently.  This technology will have a major impact on how virtually anything is designed.  This will show developers exactly what to do and exactly where to place pertinent information to most effectively get the message to the viewer.  This technology isn’t just limited to websites and video games, but could be used on the go to gather data for anything from art exhibits to store displays.

Interactive design is the way of the future.  This ties in closely with augmented reality and mobile applications, because when we get to the point where we are wearing AR goggles and have given ourselves a virtual HUD, the design will need to be the most intuitive, and organic experience possible.

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The Music Industry

As you know, I’ve been writing about the music industry all semester.  The conclusion that I have already come to is simple:  The music industry is not dead, dying, or even a little sick.  Music is in more demand than ever before.  The sickly dying entity is the modern, conglomerate, mega-giant record label.

Let’s face it, there are over a billion more people on the planet today than there were 20 years ago.  Add to the notion that virtually everyone I’ve ever met in my entire life loves music of some variety, I just don’t buy the record industry’s claim that the music industry is suffering.  This is where they try to confuse us.  What is dying is the great musical corporate dream.  The old model of record companies producing hits and keeping a large chunk of the profits for themselves is on it’s way out.  Why?  Well first of all they are not a necessary entity in today’s modern world. 

Musicians can now create music from paper to mp3 all in their own bedroom.  Sure, some people in class argued that musicians will always need professionals to create industry quality music, but I don’t buy that.  What we can do today in our own homes is amazing.  Just imagine 10 or even 20 years from now. Computers and technology are growing much faster than studio engineers or equipment can keep up with.  With the continuing development of artificial intelligence, I believe that one day soon, we will all be able to produce “record quality” music at the touch of a button.

 

The Future of Television (Finally)

Television is it’s traditional form is a dinosaur.  I don’t know if I’m ahead of the curve, but I haven’t sat down and watched live tv in years.  I’m not sure what it says about me, but I just got around to dumping my cable company three months ago.  I was basically paying to have these channels come into my house that i never watched.

Video content is now easier to deliver than ever.  It all comes in the internet tubes.  Why pay a cable installation fee to get a limited number of channels, with programs that must be watched on a schedule?  This is the old way.

Something I’ve been waiting for for quite a while is the upgrade to Microsoft’s XBox video capabilities.  I already enjoyed Netflix on my XBox for the past few years.  Now I will have a plethora of options from HBO to Comcast.  Why would I ever want to rent a cable box when all of this content flows into a (rather awesome) device that I already own?  This move may even convince me to subscribe to something like HBO on demand.  I mean, I’m already only paying $7.95 per month as opposed to the $80+ I was paying for Comcast.  This means I can have all of my great Netflix content plus premium content from HBO for a fraction of the cost of Comcast’s basic cable service.  It astounds me that anyone would still pay for traditional cable, given these new developments.

Another great device, besides the Xbox, is Boxee.  I hadn’t even heard of these until I visited my parents’ home for Thanksgiving.  Boxee is a small, internet ready cube that sits under your television.  It runs a host of applications like netflix, etc.  The coolest thing about it is the fact that it contains thousands of free internet TV channels, in addition to the premium content such as Netflix.  This is thousands of times better than traditional tv.  You can watch literally thousands of programs without paying a dime.  Oh, and did I mention it has a web browser?

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Conclusion

We are at the cusp of that crazy future that was conjured up in movies like Back to the Future II.  this is a very exciting time to be alive from a technological standpoint.  Media can only get better.  We will start integrating augmented reality with mobile applications.  We will have virtually all information available at a voice command.  It is possible that this will go too far. For now, the future is very exciting.  Things thought of only possible in science fiction are becoming a reality on a daily basis.  i for one welcome our new technology overlords and their ability to enrich the human experience.

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Advice On my Final Project

Forgivness please, I comletely forgot about this blog assignment over the break.  In class last week weshowed our project drafts to class mates and they gave us advice.  We were then to blog about the 3 best pieces of advice we received.

 

My top 3:

Make the interface as simple to use and understand as possible.

Get feedback and testimonials.

Try to an overlay or guide to help them navigate the site.

From the Moby video:

1 musicians have day jobs; take more DIY approach.
Moby says that most of the musicians he knows also have day jobs. This is pretty consistent from what I’ve seen in my experiences. I know there are musicians out there who can support themselves by playing music, but they are usually in cover bands and splitting a $500 payout for a night between 5 people, they’d need to play 4-5 gigs a week to equal a 9-5 job.

2. Record companies aren’t going to be around in 5 years.
In one of my earlier blogs, I wrote about the changing music industry. Record labels are on their way out. Musicians are now taking a diy approach, cutting out the middle man.

3. There is now more of a redistribution of “wealth” in the music industry.
I found it interesting that indie musicians and labels are starting to bring in more of a share of music equity, whether it be downloads, cd sales, youtube hits etc. With the decline of the record industry now the little guy can compete.

Documentary:

1: people want less choice. They want recommendations and to be told what to listen to. I found this absurd on a personal level. I have never wanted to be told what to listen to. I like to be completely surprised. I haven’t cared much for the music that has been shoved down our throats by record labels and radio stations. For the record, I mostly listen to independent music. If I am listening to broadcast radio, you’d better believe it’s npr. The rest of the time I have my entire music library with me on my 80Gb iPod. For me personally, radio is irrelevant, and I hope that catches on for more people.

2. If all music became free then people would recognize the need for experts.
If all music cost the same to the consumer, then yes, the need would be recognized for expert producers. However, some of us prefer a more lo-fi, diy approach to the sound of music. If we only listened to music produced by the giants, we never would have the beautiful music of Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, or Mark Schwaber.

3. Most acts establish themselves on their own. Without the need of a label.
This is the most exciting thing about music today. Thanks to the internet, we all have a chance to be heard. Do good work and the people will find it.

4. Whoever creates the new filter is going to make money. There is no longer a filter to what is “good.”

This also really bothers me. The thought of people telling us what is good. Good is the most subjective term we can use in terms of music. What the filter says is good is complete rubbish to me. I care more about music that feels honest and from the heart. It would be a cold day in hell before I listened to something that was decried from the top as good and what we should be listening to.

5. Don’t call yourself a record company today. Need a whole package.
This is good advice. Record companies are toxic. I wish they would die completely and never come back. Music is art, it shouldn’t be a commodity. Music should be free, not raped by those seeking profit. The sooner we get away from the record label model, the sooner art and music will truly be free.

Industry Leaders

I have been following four music industry leaders since September to see what I can learn from their online media pages.  I have been reading tweets, blogs, and articles to try and learn more bout these industry leaders.  The following is what I have taken away about each leader.

Derek Sivers:  Founder of CD Baby.

Derek Sivers is an unusual character.  he is not motivated by monetary or material gains.  When visiting his blog, the user is greeted by articles, books, interviews, videos and Ted Talks.  All are aimed at a higher purpose.  Mr. Sivers says that he treats work as play. It is very evident that he loves what he does and would do it even without pay.  The most interesting thing about Mr. Sivers is his philanthropy.  CD Baby is a multi-million dollar company.  Being content with living simply and having “enough” he established a charitable trust for music education.  He then donated his company, CD Baby to this trust.  he receives a 5% dividend every year, which is the minimum allowed by law.  he says he would prefer something in the realm of 1%, but will use the excess to create more businesses that can earn money for charity.

Gerd Leonhard:  Author of The Future of Music.

Gerd spends his time imagining where media content will be going in the future. He has written books and blogs on this topic.  One thing I have learned from reading his blog is the passion that it takes to be an industry leader.  Without passion and a true love for what you do, your work will not speak for itself.  Gerd has voiced his dislike of the iTunes business model.  He views it more of a hinderence to the music industry, rather than a boon.  It is nice to see an expert speaking out so openly against Apple, whom to many can do no wrong.

Ian Rogers: Founder of Topspin.

Ian Rogers blogs about the state of the music industry.  He writes about the impending fall of the record industry.  Ian also has some very useful information to working musicians on how to get signed and make money selling their music.  He gives detailed accounts on how he got started in the music industry, and even an amusing anecdote of how he started working with the Beastie Boys after illegally bootlegging one of their live performances.  Ian’s blog is quite useful and eye-opening to anyone who is in or is thinking about getting in to the music industry.

Finally we have Dave Kusek:  Vice President at Berklee College of Music.

I expected more from Dave Kusek’s twitter page. He keeps followers updated on what he is doing, such as getting ready for presentations etc, but he lacks any cohesiveness or insight.  His twitter page is almost more for personal communication, like that of your average college age student.  He doesn’t offer the insights or information that the previous three industry leaders do.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Dave Kusek, it’s how not to manage a blog, and how not to be insightful.

 

Taking in to account what most of these leaders have accomplished and what they are willing to share, I now have a much better picture of the music industry.  I know that the traditional record label on top model is on its way out.  Musicians are in a position to garner more power over their music and income than ever before.  Music is moving into some exciting realms.  With more and more connectivity come greater exposure.  I also learned that it’s not all about money.  A majority of these people that I followed would do what they are doing if it didn’t earn them one cent.  True passion is the underlying theme.  Without passion, there is no point.

Visions

Final Cut X Screenshot 2

Final Cut X Screenshot 2

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Final Cut X Screenshot 1

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Project Outline

For my final project, I would like to create a website that contains videos and images that is used to educate the elderly population about technology. I have noticed that information technology is overwhelming to many senior citizens. Topics I would like to include: How to access the web, common troubleshooting issues, identity protection, how to avoid scams, where to find free music and videos, how to stay connected with loved ones, how to use search engines, how not to fear technology, etc. This all came about when I was listening to Radiohead at work. An older woman approached me and told me that she really like the music and asked where she could buy it. I explained to her that it was released for free and she could get it online. At that point she started crying, and expressed her frustration and fear of technology, and how out of place she felt in today’s society. This is why I would like to do this project. Senior citizens have been through so much in their lives, and it is the younger generation’s responsibility to make sure that they can understand the world that we are creating. We will all be old one day and technology will move beyond our familiarity.

3 Best of Animations

Best of Education

Advertising

Entertainment

We don’t live in our grandparents’ world anymore.  Technology and media have affected nearly everyone in ways which can not be undone.  From staying connected with Facebook or Twitter, to surgeons playing video games, to targeted advertising, the world and its people are different now.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

Ok, so just about everyone you know uses Facebook and/or Twitter.  We are all willing to share our personal information with the world.  Thanks to this voluntary sharing of thoughts, desires, good times, and bad, demographers can now get quantifiable measurements of the nation’s collective happiness.  Researchers can tell which areas are happiest, when users are most happy, and can use this data to predict moods and events in the lives of the users.  This has countless implications.  For instance, advertisers can target us when we’re having good days and would be more likely to succumb to their advertising.  They would know to avoid people on bad mood days, and could even offer products to increase the user’s mood.  We have never at any point in history had access to the mood and feelings of the nation, updated in real time.  Thanks to the affordability of computers and widespread internet, we can see ourselves as more of a collective and can plan actions more strategically.

Revolutionary

Twitter isn’t only useful for letting people know what you’re thinking and feeling.  Recently several uprisings in the Middle East have been facilitated and carried out by use of social software such as Facebook and Twitter.  Such uprisings would have been easily quashed in the past.  Their success can be attributed to people acting quickly, and making the best use of the technology that they had available.

“This revolution started online.” “This revolution started on Facebook.”

Facebook and Twitter have been very cautious about their neutrality in these uprisings.  They certainly do not want to be held responsible for anything that might go wrong.  This seems to be a pretty wise move, from a liability stand point.

“This is an unusual revolution in that it was led by a very educated and economically conversant, forward-looking group of people,” says Khush Choksy, executive director of the United States-Egypt Business Council, which is part of the United States Chamber of Commerce. “But to secure what they really went into Tahrir Square for, there needs to be economic growth, a modern set of thinking, and a more diversified economy.”

These people used the technology to quickly organize, send images in real-time, and evoke emotion.  Twitter has helped to get information past the big media filters.

Recently, Manal al-Sharif, a woman posted a video online of her driving her SUV in Saudi Arabia and called for a collective protest.  It is apparently illegal in Saudi Arabia for a woman to drive and she was jailed for nine days. In just a matter of days twitter was abuzz with over 30,000 messages and comments, mostly in support of al-Sharif.  “Are you accusing a woman of being a sinner because she went to jail for driving? What kind of religion would come up with that?” wrote a woman in Jidda, on the Red Sea coast. Social media is changing the game in Saudi Arabia.  Public gatherings are illegal there.  Now with the availability of the internet and social media, the citizens can still carry out protests and discuss their political unrest.

Would You Like to Play a Game?


Video games have come a long way.  We used to have to be in the same room to play a game with someone else.  Now we can play with virtually anyone, anywhere in the world.

Video gaming used to be looked down on as a childish waste of time, now they are used for much more than entertainment.  Games can be used for a variety of reasons, and game design is a popular college major.  The skill sets used to create games also can translate to other fields.  “But if you just look at the surface of people playing games, you are missing the point, which is that games are all about managing and manipulating information,” Mr. Kerrey said. “A lot of students that come out of this program may not go to work for Electronic Arts. They may go to Wall Street. Because to me, there is no significant difference – except for clothing preference – between people who are making games and people who are manipulating huge database systems to try to figure out where the markets are headed. It’s largely the same skill set, the critical thinking. Games are becoming a major part of our lives, and there is actually good news in that.”  So, in a sense, gaming and game design can now be seen as skill training.    The things one learns from making games and from playing them can have even more practical applications elsewhere.

Skills aren’t the only thing that we learn from playing video games.  Believe it or not, games are now being taken seriously in the health care field.  According to “Video Games in Health Care: Closing the Gap,”
by Pamela M. Kato, medical patients can learn positive behaviors from video games.  From dealing with painful procedures to coping with boring daily routines, video games can help teach behaviors which are necessary to stay in good health.  The games can motivate and remind a patient to take their medication, for instance.  Not only patients benefit from video game play.  Surgeons are now honing their skills by playing even commercially available video games such as “Half Life.”

This is all very exciting.  Something that was seen as a childish waste of time 10 years ago is now getting attention in the medical community.  As technology grows and gamers get better, so can all of their skills. Oh, did you hear that gamers have recently solved a folding protein puzzle in 3 weeks that science couldn’t solve in years of research?  It gets better, this will likely lead to breakthrough AIDS vaccinations.  The researchers didn’t teach the players about science.  They didn’t need to tell them why certain proteins and bonds work certain ways, they simply told them how they interacted, like a set of rules.  With no scientific knowledge, average citizens were able to manipulate the proteins in ways science hadn’t figured out yet in research, all in 3 weeks time.

Party, Party!

Elections, they are a changing!  President Barack Obama is a  record setting president in more ways than one.  Not only is he the United States’ first African-American president,  he is the first “Social Media President” in history.  He is the first one to successfully organize a grass roots campaign.  He was able to build a platform and motivate groups of citizens. Traditionally, getting your message out as a politician required one key ingredient: MONEY.   The genius aspect of all of this was how accessible he was able to make donating.   At least some of President Obama’s success can be attributed to:  my.barackobama.com, Barack Obama’s Blog, Barack Obama on flickr, Barack Obama’s youtube channel, Barack Obama on Linked In, and Twitter/Facebook.  I think after the 2008 election, we will see only more and more of these social media, grass-roots campaigns.

Now, both sides are ready to wage war, armed with the latest advances the internet can offer.  “This will be the first election in modern history that both parties are understanding the potential of the technology to change the results of the election,”(Andrew Rasiej)  Stemming from John McCain’s defeat by Obama, Republicans are arming themselves and are prepared to deal with these grass-roots campaigns.  “You learn more from losing than winning sometimes,” said a member of McCain’s campaign staff.  In fact, more Republicans are using social media campaigning than their Democrat counterparts.  It will be quite interesting to see how this next presidential election goes.  I for one have noticed a huge jump in online advertisements for local candidates.  I don’t see this trend stopping, quite the contrary.

That’s None of Your Business!!

Actually, it is!  Everything that you like, visit, or do online is being tracked.  Companies know us almost better than we know ourselves.  Companies are now directing us to our social media, to better advertise to us.  Advertisers have made somewhat of a departure from trying to sell us individual products.  They are now focused on getting us to like their facebook or twitter pages.    The way they are using the ads is ingenious.  They create little tabbed advertisements, that function almost as miniature, self contained websites.  The user can interact fully with the add without leaving the page they were on.  This is genius because statistics show that only about 1 in 1000 users will click on an add that takes them off of their current page.  This way, the user can be exposed to the full add without leaving the page, and will interact with more ads.

Sometimes targeted adds can take a turn for the worst.  Toyota was recently sued by a woman who was a victim of a “Cyber Stalking” add campaign.  Amber Duick sued Toyota in 2009 over its “Your Other You” campaign.  Duick started receiving bizarre emails and contacts from an apparent criminal on the run.  He knew detailed personal information such as her home address, phone number, email address, myspace account etc.  He claimed he was on the run from the law and would need a place to crash for a few days.  Duick even received an angry letter from a fake hotel manager, where this criminal supposedly broke a television.  None of this was real.  This was all an elaborate hoax, perpetrated by Toyota.  Duick’s friend had signed her up for this under Toyota’s “Your Other You” campaign.  Toyota claims that Duick unknowingly opted in to this advertisement.  We need to really ask ourselves how far is too far?  How much private information should we be giving out to these corporations?  Where do we draw the line.  Nothing like this would have been possible on this scale in the past.  the world has changed.  Our private data is an important commodity.

The Media Footprint

Media and technology have changed the very face of our planet.  From staying in touch with people we would have never talked to again without facebook, to how we think about political candidates, we are in the middle of a forced evolution.  This time, it is not biological.  We are evolving through the technology that we create and use.  We are becoming more of a collective.  We have access to knowledge instantly.  In 20 more years, we could all be so wired in that we act as a colony of bacteria, a hive mind.  Technology and social media have allowed us to circumvent the filters that traditional media have imposed on us.  We can get information to all points of the globe in seconds.  We can learn skills from technology that we create.  Soon, we will have technology that creates technology.  I believe that we are at a turning point in human existence.  We are only at the beginning.  Life as we know it is forever changed.