Media Access for the Next Generation (4)

Media Access for the Next Generation:
    1. Introduction
    2. Immediate Access
    3. Localized Storage
    4. Subscription Services

Immediate access to the internet will lead to localized storage of media. The next logical step is a shift away from ownership of media to subscription services.

Why do we buy MP3s and CDs instead of waiting for the song to play on the radio, or DVDs instead of waiting for the movie to play on TV? Because we want to be able to play the song or movie whenever we want. Purchasing the media means we can access the media at any time.

But once you have immediate access to the internet, subscription services will also allow you to access various media whenever you want. Cable On-Demand is an example of a subscription service with a limited number of movie options. What if you could subscribe to a media service that allowed you an unlimited number of media options with immediate access wherever you went? Pick any movie or song and play it wherever and whenever you want.

Immediate access to a variety of media will take away much of the mystique of personal ownership. Why invest hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on DVDs that you may only watch once or twice, when you can watch them anytime you want for a regular subscription fee? The same applies for music and books. Some people have already chosen this option through mail-order subscription services like Netflix, but once you have the option of immediate access, more and more people will move to subscription-based services rather than direct ownership of media.

So, those are some of the ways that I think media access will be different for the next generation. Many of these changes are already taking place, and I expect they will be fully implemented by the time the next generation starts accessing media. Anybody want to make some guesses as to what changes will take place for two generations down the road?

Action points:

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Links to other posts in the series:   Part 1,   Part 2,   Part 3,   Part 4


  1. Tom says:

    I agree with all of what you have presented….
    personal ownership will give way to subscriber services…
    Our information, documents, emails, music that WE have authored or still own will be centrally located and widely available…
    The interesting part of this discussion, for me, is how will you be known as you. How will you be identified, authenticated, known as you.
    Passwords will have outlived their usefulness… biometric identification has flaws…will it be a combination of both? Or a birth to death identifier…and who will hold the “keys” to you being identified as you? This is what current Sci-fi is written about…to be lived out by the next generation…maybe even our generation.

  2. Bethany says:

    I’m a “baby boomer” in my 40s and am already impatient for the next wave of media access. We choose not to have cable TV in our home but would love to access various TV options from our computer. We’d be happy to pay for the option to watch the Red Sox on our computer, and sit through the commercials just like on TV, so they wouldn’t lose advertising revenue. We’d love to watch the Olympics on our computer,too, and again, would put up with the commercials if they “need” the advertising to make this viable. For some reason, these aren’t options yet, though ABC does let me watch “Lost” episodes the day after they air via computer, at my convenience, with a few commercials. Already my Netflix account lets me download a number of movies right onto the computer without having to wait for them to come in the mail, so change is certainly in the air. Of course with all “positive” elements of technological breakthroughs there are negatives, so maybe I should curb my impatience….

  3. Ray Fowler says:


    Great thoughts on “what happens next.”. I had not considered the whole security/privacy issues that go along with all this. The world is sure changing fast.

  4. Ray Fowler says:


    I am sure the changes will all get here soon enough. But I think Tom’s comment raises the additional question: will we be ready for them when they do?

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Media Access for the Next Generation (1) at Ray Fowler .org
  2. Media Access for the Next Generation (2) at Ray Fowler .org
  3. Media Access for the Next Generation (3) at Ray Fowler .org
  4. Quick Takes - 12/1/2007 at Ray Fowler .org
  5. Kindling a Spark for Electronic Reading? at Ray Fowler .org

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