'South Park' on your cell
June 24, 2001
Went to the Streaming Media West trade show on Friday and lo and behold, yes someone is actually work on "broadband cell phones." It's technologically impressive, but I never did get a good answer as to why people might want to use it.

Yeah, it's kind of cool that you can watch a postage-stamp version of "South Park" on your cell phone (one of Packet Video's demos), but I'm not sure most people are willing to pay for the privilege. The other big killer app seemed to be the latest reincarnation of the video-phone—another triumph of hope over experience.

That said, having graphics and even animations on your cell phone could be quite useful. I'd love to be able to access Map Blast from my cell when I'm on the road. But video?

On the other hand, I suspect those attending a streaming media conference are more likely to be "old media" types that think they can still do business the same way in "new media." In what I can only hope was atypical comment, one speaker (left nameless to protect the guilty) proclaimed that if a new and better plug-in became available he didn't care whether users would need to get it, since after all, his business was based on providing compelling content and people would just have to download it if they wanted to experience it… That may work if you're doing a porn site, but I'm not sure other users are necessarily going to agree.

But then again Hollywood has generally been the last to get "new media." The joke back in the days of CD-ROM was that to Hollywood interaction multimedia was a movie with buttons. Don't get me wrong, Hollywood can be very good about what it does, but a movie is one of the most controlled experience around. Cinematography, the direction of the actors, film editing, musical scoring—all are carefully crafted to convey a desired experience. Needless to say, it's big mind shift for (most) film makers to allow the user/audience control over the experience. It's the shift from controlling the experience to controlling the environment in which users create their own experiences. ::

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