Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Future of Media #81: Get Out Your Crystal Ball

Remember When?

Technology changes rapidly, but not every new development in media format ends up catching on and making the difference that might have been expected. The Blu-Ray format beat HD DVD in the format war, but has it made a huge difference to most of us? In the audio format, most of us never cared to have a Super Audio CD.

Then there were the changes that had great influence. It might seem hard to believe now, but the personal computer first outsold the TV set in the United States in 1994. DVDs were introduced in 1997 (Netflix started the same year) and became officially more popular than VHS in 2001. Recordable CD technology became part of computer systems in 1999. Napster was created in 2000, changing music distribution and causing the music industry to experience it's first decline in annual sales. The iPod debuted in 2001, followed by iTunes in 2003. The home entertainment industry has been revolutionized in a variety of ways in less than 20 years.

How do you know what is next on the horizon that will make a difference? Keep informed and guess.

The Future Starts Now

I'm sure you've seen statistics or read articles about the death of the newspaper industry. Some business analysts predict that the traditional TV business is set up for the same kind of fall. Basically, since Internet-based distribution doesn't generate the profits TV companies are used to, are they prepared to support themselves when the television and the computer screen are merged? Robert Cringely blogs in this post that network television will go away, cable operators will become ISPs, and content will endure. How will current content change? Will "midtails" bring the best of traditional television and the Internet?
A previous post in this module discussed streaming movies through different gaming systems. Companies like Amazon and Netflix also offer high quality movie streaming. Will we always want a format you can hold in your hand AND the convenience of computer access? Or will the recent announcement that the giant Wal-Mart is buying Vudu accelerate the end of the DVD?

The Look of the Future

One of the most current debates concerns the future look of movies, TV and games. Some of you might have heard of a little movie called Avatar, claimed by it's director to be a movie that will change the way we watch movies through the development of 3D technology. He is not alone -- others are comparing 3D to the switch to color. Now, 3D is poised to come to the TV. What will that mean for the consumer? Will it catch on? Or is it really suited for gaming?

There are a great many questions you could try to "futurecast" regarding home entertainment and media. Will we still go to movie theaters in ten years? Will everything be "on demand?" Will I still get my HBO shows at the nursing home? What do you think?


  1. Which of the developments listed above do you think will have the most influence? Is there a new technology you have been following that you think will have more effect? Discuss it in your post.
  2. Are you an early adopter of every gadget or do you have fond memories of technologies from the past? What is your favorite media gadget or which outdated format do you miss the most? Describe it in your post.
HCPL Staff: Have you completed this exercise? Dont' forget to submit your Registration of Completion.

This module brought to you by Linda Stevens (ADM), Grace Lillevig (ADM), Abigail Buchold (ADM), & Mark Haywood (ALD).

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Future of Media #80: Movies

© 2010 Jupiterimages Corporation
Watching movies at home doesn’t always mean a trip to the video store anymore! These days the Internet offers a variety of ways to watch your favorite movies without even leaving home.

The popular site Netflix allows you to choose films from their huge collection of titles—for a monthly fee they send DVDs through US Mail right to your front door! In the past year they have also added “Instant” titles that you can stream from their site and watch on your home computer. Not all titles are available for streaming, but the number is growing.

Have an xBox 360 or Playstation 3? Netflix allows you to stream movies through these gaming systems at no extra charge. Recently, Netflix also announced its plan to provide streaming movies through the Nintendo Wii! Streaming content through the Wii should be available by Spring of 2010.

Blockbuster is now offering streaming movies in addition to their storefront rentals. Fees are paid per rental. You can get DVDs delivered through the mail and download “On Demand” titles from their website. Blockbuster also offers downloads for purchase.

You may have heard of Hulu, a site that provides free access to full-length network TV shows. Hulu also has an extensive library of feature films you can watch on your computer. There are thousands of free titles. The site highlights popular films, recently added movies, and films from various genres.

Are you into foreign movies and art films? Check out Mubi.
© 2010 Jupiterimages Corporation
Mubi “is a web site making great films from prominent festivals around the world accessible to anyone through high-definition video streaming.”

You may have seen the Redbox kiosks in a fast food restaurant, in front of a pharmacy, or in the grocery store. Redbox allows you to rent movies vending machine-style with just the swipe of a credit card. Well, now you can reserve movies through Redbox online before you visit the kiosk. You just choose the movies you want, choose a pickup location, pick up your movies and enjoy. Fees are charged per night, and you can return them to any Redbox kiosk.

Movie trailers have been available online for quite some time. You can find them all over the web, but some of the better quality high definition trailers are available on specific sites. Apple Trailers, for example offers a database of movie trailers for films currently in theaters and for upcoming films. You can watch them online and they are available in HD, as well as on the iPod and iPhone. Internet Movie Database (IMDB) is a well known database of film, actor, director, and production information. IMDB offers movie trailers for many films, both current, upcoming, and from the past. There are also some full-length films to choose from. Hulu, the streaming site mentioned above, also has trailers available.

  1. Use one of the film sites above to find a free full-length film (you’ll probably have the best luck with Hulu, The Auteurs, or IMDB). Watch a little of it. Would you watch an entire film on your computer or do you still prefer watching DVDs on your TV?
  2. Find a trailer for an upcoming film. Would you use these sites to keep up on current film information?
  3. Write a blog post about the experience. Would you consider using any of the fee-based services to get the movies you want at home? If so, which one would work better for you and why?

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Future of Media #79: Television

This module on the future of media consists of three posts: television, movies, and the future of both. Completing all three posts is worth 2 training hours. The module is available through March 31, 2010.

When television was in it's infancy at the end of the 1940s and beginning of the 1950s, I don't think anyone could have imagined that people would be able to record shows, watch TV shows on demand, or even watch a show on the Internet.

Today, changes in the public's viewing habits and the increase in the number of channels and options has forced the television industry to look at other options to reach it's viewing public. One effect is the growing use of product placement in TV shows as viewers increasingly skip over commercials with their DVRs. Another effect is the increase in the number of episodes available on the web for people to watch.

Most of the major networks have some kind of online presence for viewers to find their favorite shows. Availability of episodes varies both by network, site, and show. The major options are:

  • Hulu.com - Offers recent episodes of popular shows such as Lost, 24, The Office, and Family Guy primarily from NBC and Fox. It also has "classic" shows such as The Facts of Life, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and What's Happening. The number of episodes varies by show and each does include commercials.
  • tv.com - A one stop shop for CBS shows, either airing on CBS or in some way produced by them. Popular shows include NCIS, CSI, South Park, and Survivor. Classic shows such as Bonanza are also available.
  • Joost - Has quite a bit of animation in addition to similar offerings to Hulu and tv.com.
  • viewmy.tv - Watch news from around the world.
  • CastTV - The site's goal is to index every video, and thus TV show, on the web.
  • Major Network websites - ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and The CW all offer at least some episodes of their current TV shows online. In addition to current shows, NBC also has a selection of classic shows as well as original online-only shows.
Going Mobile

With the advent of web based mobile phones, especially the iPhone, watching TV on the go is becoming easier and more popular. There are several free or low cost options for taking your favorite programs with you.
  • The major phone providers including AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all have some kind of Mobile TV option. Charges may apply.
  • The major networks all have mobile websites: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and The CW. Not all the sites are accessible over a regular internet browser as they are designed for use on smart phones.
  • For iPhone/iPod Touch users, some of the sites have available apps: tv.com (CBS), The CW, and ABC. There are also a number of mobile TV apps for the iPhone. Mashable has a list with reviews. Note that some apps have a small fee.
Be Your Own TV Star

Why let the networks or cable channels have all the fun? You can be the star of your own program online. There are a number of sites that let you post your own videos, or in the case of USTREAM and Justin.tv, post a live feed. For more on making videos, see the video module from October 2008.
  • USTREAM - This site host to the popular Shiba Inu Puppy Cam, lets users post streaming video. People can chat about your stream live.

    Live Broadcast by Ustream.TV
  • Justin.tv - Like USTREAM, users can post live feeds.
  • YouTube, Yahoo! Video, and Vimeo all have options for uploading videos to their sites and sharing your creativity with the world. Many users have "channels" that you can subscribe to, in effect creating their own online broadcast network.

Post your replies on your blog.
  1. Visit Hulu, tv.com, or one of the other TV sites. Search or browse the site to see if your favorite show is listed. Are you able to watch full episodes online? What coverage is available?
  2. Have you ever watched a TV show on your cell phone? If so, did you like it? If not, are you interested? Why or why not?
  3. Are there any streaming programs or user "channels" that you watch? Have you ever posted videos to a site on a regular basis?
This module brought to you by Linda Stevens (ADM), Grace Lillevig (ADM), Abigail Buchold (ADM), & Mark Haywood (ALD).
Images © 2010 JupiterImages