Why is this page text-only?

« Encouraging Video Literacy Is Digital Economic Development | Main | The Insanity That Is The Universal Service Fund »

May 31, 2011 10:18 AM

Fiber Is The Printing Press For Video

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how encouraging video literacy is a form of digital economic development given the significance of producing video in the 21st century relative to manufacturing in the 20th century.

One of the ideas shared in that post is that of fiber as the printing press for video. Upon further reflection I've come to realize that that's an idea worth exploring on its own as it could allow us to reframe the debate around the need for fiber in ways more people can understand.

So to rehash some of this last post, I believe that while print then radio then television were the dominant mediums of the 20th century, that video-based communications will be the dominant medium of the 21st century.

Basically what I mean by this is that increasingly the way we convey information as a society will be through the many different flavors of video-based communication. So we're talking about way more than just on-demand YouTube videos. We're talking about live webcasting, two-way videoconferences, interactive videos, and more.

There are just so many ways in which video can be used as a medium, and we've only just begun to scratch the surface of its potential.

The primary reason why we're only just beginning to scratch this surface is that video hasn't had the equivalent of a printing press yet, at least not one capable of unleashing all of this opportunity.

Sure television is ubiquitous but it's a distinctly one-way communications medium with little in the way of dynamic capabilities to allow users to interact with video in new ways. And yes there's already a ton starting to happen with video on the Internet, but where that is limited is in the last mile, otherwise known as broadband.

Unfortunately the vast majority of America's current broadband infrastructure is incapable of fully enabling all that video as a medium makes possible. Low-end broadband can only deliver stuttering low quality playback that harms the value of the message trying to be conveyed. And most broadband doesn't have adequate upload capacity to unlock all the interesting ways in which users can send video rather than just receive it.

This brings us to fiber as the printing press that will enable our video-based economy.

To get us into this, here's how the impact of the printing press has been described in Wikipedia:

"The ready availability and affordability of the printed word to the general public boosted the democratization of knowledge and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy."

So the printing press made print the dominant medium of the latter half of the second millenium by enabling the written word to be distributed broadly in a cost effective manner. And by providing this capability, the printing press unleashed a multiple generations long wave of innovation in how our communities and economies operate.

This is precisely the opportunity fiber presents us with video. By having the symmetrical, reliable capacity of fiber, we can start distributing video-based communications technologies broadly in a cost effective manner, and we're already starting to see new innovations pop up around video even within the constraints of lower capacity traditional broadband.

While we talk about the value of fiber to our communities in a variety of different ways, often times the analogies fall short of capturing the full breadth of the potential impact fiber can have on society.

By framing one significant aspect of fiber's value proposition in terms relative to the printing press, I think we can start providing greater definition as to just how the potential of fiber will impact our economy.

So the next time someone asks you, why do we need fiber? You tell them that it's because fiber is the printing press that will enable our video-based economy.

Del.icio.us Digg Yahoo! My Web Seed Newsvine reddit Technorati


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)