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World at your fingertips!

Ashok Ogra |

Television and Radio have been with us for nearly a century; print for more than 500 years. Yet in just last two decades, we have connected over two billion people through internet and communication devices. And by 2016 over half the world’s population will have the option to connect and collaborate with each other.
Since 2000, Information Technology has penetrated the mainstream market and further developed into what is termed new wave technology. New wave technology is technology that enables connectivity and interaction among individuals and groups. It consists of three major forces all converging: cheap computers and mobile phones, low cost internet and open source. The technology allows individuals and groups to articulate themselves and to connect and collaborate with others.

Steve Jobs spent his last few years before his death on devising fifth generation iPod that also does video. It will screen home movies, music videos and TV shows downloaded from the iTunes stores.
This dissemination of information that takes place seamlessly empowers individuals in more than one way. Above all not only is access to information power but also a necessary pre-condition to compete with others. In that sense it levels the playing field and offers opportunities to those who have been by-passed by the traditional mass media –particularly newspapers. Hence social media isn’t just a game or a pastime.

An estimated one hour of video footage is uploaded to the web for every minute of real time. This will grow exponentially over the next five years. This new video content will be available on any screen – in our living rooms or in our pocket – and will bring together all the diverse media which matters to us, from videos of family and friends to news, music, sports, gardening, cooking and more.

In the next five years, users will be at the centre of their video experience, they will have more access to more information. It will mean the birth of a truly global village that always stays connected.
Similarly there are trillion of pages on the World Wide Web. Few years down the road, it will make little sense even to estimate the number. Around a hundred billion books have been published in the half-millennium since the invention of printing by German blacksmith Johannes Guttenberg around 1440 AD. If every language and edition is taken into account that volume of information represents less than a month’s worth of the content currently being uploaded on the net. It is as if ‘real-time’ digital revolution has gone public. This scene reminds us of Marshal Mucluhan who in his book “Understanding Media” says that all technologies change us as we use them:“ we shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.”       

One of the key enablers of this new wave technology is the rise of two forms of social media. One is the ‘Expressive social media’, which includes Blogs, Twitter, YouTube, photo sharing sites like Filcker and other social networking sites. Nowadays Indians use these social media platforms to discuss and debate, and articulate their own views for information of others to react and respond. The people formerly known as the audience are those who were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in broadcasting pattern, listening / viewing without the option to participate, respond and interact. However, in this new emerging scenario audience becomes the broadcaster.

As social media becomes more and more expressive, consumers and audiences will be able to increasingly influence other consumers / audiences with their opinions and experiences. This will result in a diminishing influence that advertising has been having on buying behavior.

The other form is the ‘Collaborative media’, which includes sites such as Wikipedia and other forms of open resources. Collaborative platforms means marketers today no longer have full control over their brands because they are now competing with the collective power of consumers. In the process, consumers become ‘prosumers’.

Or as C.K. Prahlad and Ramaswamy say in their book ‘In The Future of Competition’: “consumers are no longer isolated individuals; rather they are connected with one another.” This growing trend of consumers taking over the job of marketers is now referred to as Brand Hijack.

This unfolding scene is best described by Tom Chatfield in his book ‘How to Thrive in the Digital Age’: “through smart chips and centralized databases, we are gaining an unprecedented kind of connection not only to each other, but to the manufactured world around us: its tools, its shared spaces, its patterns of action and reaction. And with all of this comes new information about the world, in new kinds of quantities: information about where we are, what we are doing, and what we are like. The digital technology can play many parts in our lives: facilitator, library, friend, comfort, prison. Ultimately, though all of its screens are also mirror, in which we have the opportunity to see ourselves and each other as never before. ”

This smart global network is likely, in the future, to connect not only us all, but many objects in our lives – from cars to refrigerators to food and drink.

What lie ahead of us are new forms of collaboration and interaction whose outlines we are, perhaps, beginning to glimpse in the fact that the internet-connected phones increasingly found in every pocket are more powerful than most computers were ten years ago. In another decade’s time, billions of people will have at their finger tips the kind of resources that only governments commanded twenty years ago: Ability to connect, communicate, collaborate and co-create Anytime Anywhere and Anyplace.

In short, what we are witnessing is not only the death of distance but also space-time convergence. Or call it triple convergence (Thomas Friedman’s phrase).

This unfolding scene ushered by this new wave technology revolution is best captured by William Gibson: “one of the things our grand children will find quaintest about is that we distinguish the digital from the real.”

Farewell to ‘time-lapse’ and welcome ‘real-time’!

Ashok Ogra is a Member of Editorial Board of newswriters.in He is a native of Kashmir and a noted management and media educator. He is currently Director of Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication. He is the former Regional Director of Discovery Channel & Animal Planet (South Asia). He is also on the board of Ascent group that coaches students for competitive examinations. He can be contacted on: ashokogra@hotmail.com

 

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