MAP's comment


When media converge, what happens? Does the term media still mean something, or does it all become one glorious 'media-less' space?

It is important that all media serve as access points to all information. Yet it is equally important that each media actively enhance the information they convey by employing the mediums unique characteristics, rather than simply let the information ramble through.

"I still have a dream that the Web could be less of a television and more of an interactive sea of shared knowledge." Tim Berners-Lee
At the MIT Media Laboratory's News in the Future symposium, May 24 1996


Hear that fly? Hear it buzzing? It's buzzing 'convergence!' That fly has been missing in action for a while. But it's back. And it's flying low, carrying a lot of baggage.

Imagine, as if you haven't before; a world where phones can be used to call your computer and access documents on it, movies can be watched on computer screens and even wrist watches and mobile phones!

Yes, everything has to be mobile, everything has to be accessible from everywhere because, well... because it's possible!

"The phrase networked computing may soon join horse less carriage as a quaint, turn-of-the-century relic." Jeff Papows and Justin Fielding Sr
Groupware in the 21st Century

"Mobile computing is going to give the computer industry a very severe case of culture shock. Historically, the culture has always been that the user goes to the data. The new culture is that the data follows the user."
Tim Keen

Groupware in the 21st Century

Some of those examples might seem a bit far out. Not technically, as we really are building a true integrated information environment, - a liquid information environment if I may call it that. It's a bit far out because it's plain few people would actually want to watch a movie on a 'watch'. As much as seeing a movie on an airplane makes it a different experience from watching it in a THX theater, so does any medium leave it's mark on what it re-presents.

I chose HTML not to be a programming language because I wanted different programs to do different things with it: present it differently, extract tables of contents, index it, and so on. Tim Berners-Lee
Axioms of Web architecture

PDA's as note taking and information access devices, not mini laptops. Movies on TV. Books that don't get turned into Multimedia mush, but use CD's to enhance the text. Web sites with actually informs and doesn't try for Hollywood productions. But answering machines with arms everywhere- fully connected to your computer, hey, multiple accesses ain't always a bad idea :)

TV screens are best suited for passive entertainment. They are not too great for writing letters. They are too far away from the user, too small and too fuzzy.

Desktop computer monitors are physically different from television monitors in the quality of the picture they project, but also, crucially, in their physical placement- right in your face on your desk or on your lap.

Writing on a desk and writing on a computer screen is also, to no surprise, completely differernt. And produce different opportunities and different results.

"The alphabet was one thing when applied to clay or stone, and quite another when set down on light papyrus." 1964 McLuhan
"Essential McLuhan" Edited by Eric McLuhan & Frank Zingrone

Don't design your media access points to be neutral about how they (re)present information.

Text is harder to read on computer screens than on paper. Sun Computers UI group reckons that people read 20-30% slower and about 30% less on computer screens. So reading on computer is just plain bad?


because they can provide different positive points too: They can generate Hyper Links, they allow editing which is useful not just when authoring, writing, but. also when reading and reseraching.

Different media access points, different characteristics, different pros and cons.

Publishing a book on the Web may be good, but ideally it will be viewed through an intelligent automatic HyperText system with all kinds of useful functionality. Otherwise, just print it out and read it.

No point forcing you to access information in anything but it's most favorable habitat. Imagine reading a book on your mobile phone. Can be done...

"New media may at first appear as mere codes of transmission for older achievement and established patterns of thought. But nobody could make the mistake of supposing that phonetic writing merely made it possible for the Greeks to set down in visual order what they had though and known before writing. In the same way printing made literature possible. It did not merely encode literature." 1960 McLuhan
"Essential McLuhan" Edited by Eric McLuhan & Frank Zingrone

So let's not jump into the golden pond of the liquid information environment without regard for the different kinds of piers and spigots and bottles and hoses...

"A new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them." 1964 McLuhan
"Essential McLuhan" Edited by Eric McLuhan & Frank Zingrone

As these artifacts we used to call different 'media' are all more and more peering into the same information space, can we still call them media? Buffer that thought. What should we call them? What are they? They have lost their separate exclusivities and become 'Media Access Points'. Access your buffer; they may not hold any special exclusive media, but they present them as if they still do, like stubborn horseless carriage salesmen.





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