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).

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