Broadband and the end of the dinosaurs…

The explosion in broadband capacity is having a transformative impact on our world of content and connection similar to the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs millions of years ago.
Hugo Award winning author and futurist Robert J. Sawyer offered this metaphor in his opening keynote speech at the ice07 conference in Toronto.

Sawyer told the audience, composed primarily of broadcasters and program producers that they can expect that change will only accelerate. The world has changed dramatically in the past 25 years. But as great as that change feels, we will experience a similar magnitude of change in the next 10 years. And change equal to that in the subsequent five years. And the next 2.5 years…

The future is 3D. The future is virtual reality. The future will eliminate the distinction between our online life and our real world life. The distinction in resolution of the online world will reach parity with the real world. And as it does, we will not distinguish between the two.

We will see the end of downloads. All content will stream. Storage will become virtually limitless.

Robert J. Sawyer

We will see an enormous uplifting in the quality of the content produced by prosumers. They will take advantage of higher resolution, unlimited bandwidth and storage along with the tools that exist today to produce content that equals that which is currently produced by the studios and big networks.

We’re moving away from the big studio. We’re moving away from the big company. Companies will only be able to cope with the pace of change by breaking down the vertical silos.

As corporate producers find themselves competing with prosumer content that is virtually free, they will face the challenge of finding a way to monetize their own content.

Branding will be important in any attempt to do this. Content producers must raise awareness of their personal brand in a world in which the branding of aggregators like YouTube has been superimposed on the creators’ brand.

Traditional media companies will only be able to survive if they go beyond copying prosumer trends to imagine the next innovations, the next trends and move to try them before the prosumers do.

Independent and prosumer content producers will be in a struggle with large traditional companies. In an era in which the traditional economics have scarcity have been superseded by the economics of digital abundance, the large companies have lost their advantage over the independents and prosumers.

As both large and small producers struggle to succeed in this new world, the winners will be those who connect more. New connections will yield new ideas and new patterns. Traditional media must recognize this and accelerate their contact with the new prosumer and independent producers.

These will be the new corporate and production organisms that emerge in the new world much as man emerged after asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs. The dawn of a new era.