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dreams in digital
the audience is salivating
by russ carr (@DocOrlando70)

I want to be integrated.

I want to turn on, jack in, freak out.

I want to be hardwired and wireless at the same time.

I got DSL this past spring. It was a revelation. Not because it was fast, not because it was always on, not because it came with a bright yellow cord and smelled like plastic.

It made me look at my phone jack, and I understood. Telephone plugs, jacks, outlets, what-have-you, have four wires. Four. When you talk? You use two. Two is half of four. Maybe one is IN and one is OUT. I don't know. But there are two leftover wires.

Those two wires have been sitting there for DECADES, doing nothing for my conversation. Now the DSL uses those two wires. Maybe one is IN and one is OUT. I don't know that, either. But I'm using all four wires now. I'm maximizing the wires' potential now.

I want... I want eight wires. Now.

Ubergeeks in Geneva recently set a new data-transmission record. They sent the equivalent of a full-length DVD from Geneva to CalTech in seven seconds.

In the time it took you to read this sentence, you downloaded The Matrix Reloaded.

Sorry, you didn't. But the guys at CalTech did.


With that kind of speed, television becomes irrelevant. Theaters become irrelevant. Or do they? Theaters, at least. The whole film industry. When you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want, just by downloading it in seven seconds...would that make the studios work harder, to make movies we'd want to see in the theater, or would it only lead toward more lowest common denominator programming?

But I could download Yojimbo in seven seconds. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended edition, all 12 disks, in less than a minute and a half. The complete run of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in less than five minutes.

I could.

I want every CD ever made. I want them to take up no space. I want to call out an artist's name and hear his music. The highest capacity iPod is still a petite 40 gigabyte drive. It only holds 10,000 songs. That's only around 800 or so full CDs. I want a terabyte iPod. That would hold nearly 21,000 CDs.

Don't need a receiver. Don't need a CD player. Don't need spliced speaker wires stuffed under baseboards.

And it will stream CD quality music to my car stereo, wirelessly, from its own memory or from the WiFi transmitters beaming coast to coast the polyphonic polyglottal sounds of independent uncensored unlimited radio.

And there will be no roaming areas.
And there will be no roaming charges.
And there will be no question of canyouhearmenow?

It will just be.

I don't want warp speed, transporters or photon torpedoes, nice as they'd all be. I just want to cut the tether. I want to unplug the meter. Clean the pipes.

The luxuries and securities of a truly digital society are so far away, but they're as feasible as non-polluting cars that get astronomical gas mileage. Eliminate the censors, the gatekeepers, the bottleneckers, the pollsters and the politicians. Let the news be as accessible on the dusty streets of Mombasa as it is at 1 CNN Center. Let the movies be art, hung on the walls. Let the music out of the box.

It will all be there soon enough.

Everything is possible but nothing is real.

Not yet.


If the media is the eye on the world, Russ Carr is the finger in that eye. Tune in each month to see him dispersing the smoke and smashing the mirrors of modern mass communication. The world lost Russ on 2/7/12, but he lives on.

more about russ carr


this now concludes our broadcast day
watch different
by russ carr
topic: tech
published: 10.24.05

jacking off at the mouth
podcasts are the worst form of self-abuse
by russ carr
topic: tech
published: 9.23.05


trey askew
10.20.03 @ 11:17a

It's close my friend. Soon you'll be able to have all that and more. There are already wearable computers that allow you to receive data through various forms (earpiece, glasses, etc.).

You will be assimilated.

tracey kelley
10.20.03 @ 12:03p

It's not every Monday that you read "polyglottal".

At least, if you're not a geek.

I am in wonder of technology, and sometimes desire it on a chocolate-cake-dripping-in-hot-fudge level, but remain woefully far behind.

I'm still dialing-up, ferchrissakes. My cell phone doesn't send pictures. I use a 35mm camera.

I dream of having a completely (un)wired house, but still need to install new sliding windows.

Priorities. And for me, having all the "new" technology just isn't a priority.

matt morin
10.20.03 @ 12:05p

See, I think the thing is, is most people don't really want all that stuff. Look at long distance over the net technology. Or satellite radio. Or WebTV. All great ideas that the majority of the public doesn't really use at all.

Honestly, how many pay-per-view movies have you ordered via your cable company over the past year?

Just because we can do something doesn't mean we'll want to do it. In theory, all that stuff sounds great. In reality, I don't think many of those ideas will ever amount to much.

jael mchenry
10.20.03 @ 12:07p

WebTV was a "great idea"? Meh. People use things that make a major stride forward, or perform substantially better than what they already have. That's why the iPod thing works.

"I want to call out an artist's name and hear his music." I doubt that's more than a year away, Russ, if it's not already here.

tracey kelley
10.20.03 @ 12:15p

I would love IPod, I'm thinkin.' But right now, I'd be happy to install the program that lets me record all my albums onto CD. That would be a big step.

juli mccarthy
10.20.03 @ 12:15p

I don't know... it's amazing to me how quickly we DO assimilate technology. My in-laws are still tickled pink by the idea of e-mail and cellphones but my daughter takes them completely for granted. I think enough people will take advantage of this kind of techie stuff to make it worthwhile, and you may be surprised by how "wired in" the next generation is.

I want high-quality entertainment and communication to be readily available, but I don't think I really want to be integrated! It just seems very "Demon Seed" to me.

matt morin
10.20.03 @ 12:16p

One client I used to do ads for is called OpenTV. They make all the hardware/software for interactive TV. And right now they have the technology to do the every movie anytime thing. Or the ability to order a pizza from your tv. Or you can watch a sporting event and switch between different cameras yourself. They can do just about anything, and have been able to for several years now.

But no service provider wants to pay for all the back end hardware, not to mention the set top boxes necessary for all this to work. (As a matter of fact, Comcast just decided against moving to the high-end cable boxes that would allow them to do this. They went for a cheaper model instead.)

And the reason they don't want to pay for it, is because the business model says not enough people want it.

People are s...l...o...w to adopt new stuff. HDTV has been around for, what, 3 or 4 years now? How many people do you know who have HDTV? And I think it's only 50 percent of households even have a computer.

juli mccarthy
10.20.03 @ 12:32p

I think the percentage of households that have computers is closer to 70%, but I don't know why I think that. I could just be pulling that figure out of my ass, but I think I read it somewhere. Even if it is only 50%, think about how many of those households that DO have computers are below the poverty line. Computers are not the luxury "reserved for geeks" things they were even ten years ago.

Your point about HDTV is a good one, Matt, but think about some other technology and how fast it became commonplace - hand-held calculators were an expensive novelty when I was a kid. People only ten years younger than I am think that's hilarious.

jael mchenry
10.20.03 @ 1:14p

HDTV isn't worth the price yet. When it is, then it'll get adopted.

And why would I want to order a pizza from my TV? I have a phone for that. Well, not just for that, but you know what I mean.

russ carr
10.20.03 @ 1:37p

HDTV hasn't been the "big thing" it's expected to be for one huge reason: stations aren't (yet) required to broadcast an HDTV signal. Until that becomes the standard, TV manufacturing companies aren't going to rush to build reasonably-priced receivers. It's a weird catch-22, in that most broadcasters would like to switch over, but with so few affordable HDTVs on the market, they are slow in doing so -- which means the electronics companies are slow to get affordable sets to the market.

By writ of congress, all TVs 36" or larger sold after July '04 must be HDTV. By sometime in '06, the industry must be switched over completely. So know this: You'll be buying a new TV within four years.

russ carr
10.20.03 @ 1:42p

Oh, and WebTV? Nice idea, crappy execution. You're more likely to watch TV through your computer than to surf thru your TV. Why? Graphics are built for today's monitors, not the TV technology which has changed little in 40 years. Computer monitors give you sharper pictures, and can intrepret a standardized HTML, not a WebTV flavored markup language. Once TV goes digital and hidef, WebTV could make a comeback, only it won't be that specific company, and it will be direct-marketed through your local cable/satellite provider. Bluetooth keyboards and mice will mean you can really interact with what's on the screen, too.

matt morin
10.20.03 @ 1:59p

You won't ncessarily have to buy a new TV in the next 4 years. Broadcasters have to do everything in HD in '06, but they'll still broadcast a regular signal for longer. Plus, they'll just make a downconverter box.

San Francisco was one of the original HDTV test markets. They've been broadcasting in HD since 1998 here. Comcast now offers an HD service, too. But I only know one person who has HDTV - and she just ordered it a week ago.

HDTV won't be common for another 10-15 years.

wendy p
10.20.03 @ 2:16p

Honestly, how many pay-per-view movies have you ordered via your cable company over the past year?

I have HBO on demand for $6.95/month with unlimited access to not just HBO movies, but tons of new releases. We use it AT LEAST 3 times a week.

wendy p
10.20.03 @ 2:26p

Oh, and WebTV? Nice idea, crappy execution.

Totally agreed. Make it look just like my pc screen or even close to a web browser and configurable and with the speed of a cable modem and then MAYBE. 'Til then, we scrapped my mom's webTV and gave her a pc and had Time Warner hook up her cable modem. She LOVES it to the point that I have to ask her when she's getting any sleep.

joe procopio
10.20.03 @ 3:20p

The Internet is eventually going to become as innocuous as electricity, where devices will be specifically built to use it as an information communication medium. A good current example is the XBox, which uses the Internet as a channel for online gaming, you just plug it in and it figures out the rest, but you can't surf it.

Imagine a microwave that scans the bar code of whatever you pop in there, and does a server call to get the correct power setting and time to cook. That kind of thing.

HP is leading this, in terms of appliances, and Apple will figure it out and do it better before long.

russ carr
10.20.03 @ 6:23p

The new Apple G5s have digital audio in/out. This means you can pump your MP3 collection into your stereo. If you purchase and download all your music from Apple's music store, you could have that "take up no space" thing. Apple already has voice recognition/command built into its system. Run wireless microphones and speakers through the house to control your playlists. It sounds deceptively simple...it's just a matter of using existing technologies in new directions.

matt morin
10.20.03 @ 6:48p

My friend John just got his new G5 with a 23" cinema display. He's in luuuuuuv.

russ carr
10.21.03 @ 9:01a

"Windows users have downloaded more than 1 million copies of iTunes for Windows in just three and a half days since its launch last Thursday. iTunes users have purchased and downloaded and more than 1 million songs in the same period." -Apple.com

erik myers
10.21.03 @ 9:18a

A fitting comic and, of course, corresponding article.


russ carr
10.21.03 @ 10:05a

Not that I'm trying to be an exclusive shill for Apple by any means, but I really don't see any other company out there being a loud 'n' proud advocate for the Digital Lifestyle. Microsoft, to the exclusion of its XBox and mice, is still just a software company, pumping out larger and buggier ways to do word processing and web browsing. Windows-driven PC companies, though fewer in number than five years ago, are stuck being preoccupied with building cheaper/faster versions of what all their competitors are already building, leaving innovation behind in favor of the bottom line.

While Apple may never have the desktop marketshare, or the ubiquity of operating system, it has the distinct advantage over these other companies of really only competing with itself, enabling them to churn out some really amazing products (which immediately lead to the rest of the industry falling over itself to catch up).

joe procopio
10.21.03 @ 10:31a

HP, Sony, GE, Dell, Time Warner, Palm, Toshiba, Samsung, Motorola, etc.

They're just not falling all over themselves with their own press releases.

Watch Dell especially.

erik myers
10.21.03 @ 10:54a

Dell's making TVs, now.

russ carr
10.21.03 @ 11:11a

The thing is, Joe -- they need to be falling all over themselves with their own press releases.

trey askew
10.21.03 @ 11:37a

I used to rent movies all the time on my cable box. It costs $3.95 which is the same as blockbuster. No, I don't do NetFlix...yet.

The cool thing will be when your cable box becomes a literal media center and streams everything over wireless to any tv or computer in your house. I know they sell this stuff now but I want it built in, just like the DVR technology they have now.

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