Thursday, October 11, 2007
Cast your mind back, to the days before the internet even, when anything was possible. Hypermedia (by whatever name) was going to link all information to all other information. Don't understand a phrase? Just click and look it up. A reference to a scene in a movie? Just click and see the clip. But with all the interactive sites, and widgets and plugins and flash players and everything, I have had this experience maybe half a dozen times. A way to get close is the best Wikipedia has to offer. Clicking about their universe can be very enlightening in these cases. Its often much worse than this, with broken links, or a page with hardly any links at all, or stoppages due to digital media protection. I was thinking of this in the car while listening to an NPR story on rockabilly. NPR does a good job with this. They offer (after a brief delay) plain-text transcriptions of the story, a podcast of the whole show as aired, and a bunch of links to listen to related stories and some of the music referred to in it. But how often am I disappointed? Weekend shows are often distributed by others, with restrictions including a total inability to download them. Much of the music in the story is unavailable for listening at all. And its not really hyper. Music is not linkable from inside the audio story. I think similar thoughts when using my PVR. On the off chance I accidentally see an ad, and want to pursue it, I have to transcribe it, sucking it in with my eyeballs and keying it somewhere else, probably on another machine entirely. This is true even for an ad for another show, where I have to search on the PVR, then type in the name of the other show. The systems are still glorified VCRs, with little or no awareness of the content (except the CCI-byte... hmm, again, no hurdles to getting DRM in place...) And why should this be? I am really not sure. Its trivially easy to come up with ways to monetize these sorts of interactions. Want me to watch the show? Auto-pop the search field with the ad info. Want me to buy your music? Let me listen to it stream, and link to an online store (or amazon if I must buy the CD). All in all, much more believable as a revenue stream than most internet technologies I see floating about.