This morning I listened to a webinar, "Top Technology Media Discuss What's Next in Tech," presented by PR Newswire and the Northern Virginia Technology Council. Panelists included:
Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, Personal Technology Columnist
Steven Wildstrom, BusinessWeek, Technology & You Columnist
Kevin Maney, USA Today, Cyberspeak Columnist
Rob Pegoraro, The Washington Post, Technology Fast Forward Columnist
Stephanie Stahl, Streaming Media (formerly of InformationWeek), Editor-in-Chief
The discussion was really interesting. They talked about the role technology plays in our lives and in the business world and what they see on the horizon. Thought I’d share some of the high points:
About New Media:
Rob Pegoraro said "I don’t expect print newspapers ever to regain the importance they had in 1950s; but they will change. Where we’re going to end up with is that newspapers will have a smaller audience, a different audience and different type of content. He added that the Washington Post will soon offer new podcasts."
Kevin Maney added that he started a blog this past year to complement his column. Starting this past February, he also began USA Today CEO Forum, which features live interviews for USAToday.com, and utilizes the content for his the blog and his column. “So I am trying to bring a multimedia experience to my job.”
Maney also talked about garageband.com. "You can find the number one hit there and it’s probably better than anything you’ll find on the radio. Garageband and YouTube and Current TV represent an interesting phenomenon, and they’re beginning to create “stars” that then are getting discovered by the traditional media and that will increase."
Stephanie Stahl: "It’s not that new media will replace old media, but people like all different kinds of media. One day they might listen to a podcast. The next day they might want to read a paper or magazine. It’s another alternative." On the future of podcasts: iPods and podcasts couldn’t be more relevant, she said, citing their prevalance in the university environment.
Walt Mossberg - "Blogs and podcasts are new forms of journalism, and sometimes of entertainment and new forms always arise. In the tech world we have a tendency to over-hype anything new. But to the extent that you can use the Internet to produce a podcast or a videocast or a blog, it’s fabulous! There’s no logical reason to assume that the smartest voices happen to be employed at the news organization we work for. We are living in an era of the lowering of a tremendous barrier to publishing, and to print and broadcast media."
Rob Pegoraro "There’s a lot of content out there that is created for people that have faces for radio and voices for mime, but there are ways to find the good content."
Walt Mossberg "Most of it is going to be crap, but you’ll also find a great abundance of quality stuff that the gatekeepers haven’t seen or approved and in the music business this is particularly true. You could take every artist tomorrow that you hear on the radio and replace them with something you find on the web and if you choose carefully the quality would be the same or better. They just don’t have record contracts."
Stephen Wildstrom – "The music distribution model has been broken for years and where we will see the disappearance of physical media will be in the music business, replaced by web distribution. We’re not there yet. Digital rights management has to be done better so it does not become a huge burden on the consumer."
Rob Pegoraro – "We only have one music store that works really well – the iTunes Music Store. We have to get past that at some point if this is really going to become the replacement for physical music like CDs."
Kevin Maney cited Allof MP3.com as an example of the problem with DRM currently. "It’s out of Russia. You can go there and buy a song for about 2 cents. It was pretty clear by a recent Techcrunch post that there are a lot of people who are using it and going away from iTunes, according to Maney.
Walt Mossberg – "The Internet does not respect geography." The same thing is happening with television. There are devices that let you bypass satellite and cable, he said.
About cell phones:
Walt Mossberg: I believe the most important device in the digital world is the device formerly known as the cell phone. Unlike the PC, the cell phone is too heavily controlled by the carriers and operators who thwart the market and exercise way too much control over what services and applications you can use on the cell phone, or even what phone you can buy.
Stephen Wildstrom – not completely convinced that people really want to watch video on the cell phone, but we’re now about to see the first trials of broadcast video on the cell phone. The trend for the last few years has been for the device to get smaller, but I think that will be reversed. The devices will get bigger, because they will have to in order to watch video. I don’t think Origami is the answer. The device is interesting, but the software needs to be handled in a very different way.
Another panelist commented “think of it [the Origami] as viruses in your pocket.”
Interesting to note: The panel all carried Treos except for one, so the comment was made “The Treo beats Blackberry 4 to 1.
About Technology in Business:
Stephanie Stahl: What’s interesting is that there is so much going on in consumer technology that is starting to creep into the business world at a very fast pace, and the CIOs that ignore that are going to be in trouble. iPods, Skype, text messaging, IM etc. How many people are bringing those technologies into their businesses? All the things we think of as personal consumer gadgets are making their way into the business world. IT needs to support that.
Stephen Wildstrom The use of technology in business in general is less sophisticated than it is at home because IT controls what we get to use. IT wants to maintain control and they are standing in the way of technology that could be making their businesses money. That has to change because new technologies are going to be crucial to success for business. IT demands backward compatibility with everything that was ever invented. This actually causes security problems, it doesn’t fix or address them. CEOs and COOs have to become a lot more knowledgeable about technology.
Walt Mossberg: Corporate IT is the most regressive force in technology today. Everything they don’t want to bother to support becomes a “security problem,” and that disallows employees from using important technology – IM is a good example. Corporate IT buys the products that make their lives easier, not what makes employees more productive and they hide behind the excuse of “security.”
About Technology in General:
Rob Pegoraro – There are definitely different levels of expertise among the generations. What seems obvious to someone who is 18 seems less obvious to someone who is 34 and a lot less obvious to someone who is 50. I wish people would design interfaces would be clearer to someone who is 50.