Why digital?

Back when I was a sophomore in college (1994), I was taking a so-called computer literacy class which hardly provided any experience with computers.  Although I learned very little from the course itself, I did learn quite a bit from a guest speaker one day.

We showed up for class one day and were told that we were going over to the student union to see someone the university had arranged to speak.  He was regarded as a computer scientist even though by his own admission he knew very little about computers themselves.  While I cannot recall the man's name now, I do remember his credentials.  He was one of four animators on the film "Tron."  Additionally he had developed commercials featuring the flying logos of a number of brands and the intros to several television programs.  (A 5 minute tape of his work was played before he spoke.)

He stated that he knew very little about hardware and had never written a line of code in his life.  He was very humble and prepared us for the worst, but he was truly an intelligent individual.  He made predictions about the growth of computing power and the ever-increasing integration into our lives.

However, one of the main thoughts I latched onto was far more interesting than the rather standard litany of predictions I described above.  He contrasted the storage media of 1994 (when he spoke to us) with that of tomorrow.  Up till that time text was transmitted on paper, sound was stored on flat, round chunks of vinyl or on long pieces of magnetic tape, images were made of several layers of different colored chemicals.  He predicted that media would increasingly become digital in nature, that it would be storable, transferable, and, in fact, much more malleable.

Since that talk, music shifted from cds to mp3, digital cameras now vastly outsell the film variety, movies are on dvds at the moment, but there is much talk of shifting to downloads that will alter the model of Netflix and other once-revolutionary distribution models.  Text is still printed to paper, but I for one get most of my information via the internet, and that's how I and billions more put out more written content most days than has probably accumulated until a few centuries ago.

Copyright 2007 Ale[x]plorer.

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