9. Sound and vision - convergence, online music, iPods and YouTube
Transcript

One thing that interests me is the way that all the different kinds of media seem to be coming together. You know, like being able to watch a movie preview on the Internet, reading newspaper articles on your computer screen, downloading music onto your iPod or listening to the radio online. None of these activities seems unusual to us – but it hasn’t always been like this.

According to the Hobbes’ Internet Timeline, the first time a TV show’s outcome was decided online by its viewers was on 27 March 1998, when Internet users got to judge the performance of 12 world champion ice skaters! Recently, all kinds of television programmes have been inviting people to participate online in some way, whether it’s by entering a competition or prize draw, voting to influence the plot of a TV show or emailing their opinions about a specific subject that’s come up in the news.

BT Vision was launched in December 2006 and lets people watch TV programmes and sports events via broadband. This is a really good example of something called ‘convergence’, which involves different media coming together.

Music is another area that has been revolutionised by the spread of high speed Internet access.

In 1999 a guy called Shawn Fanning created the ‘Napster’ website, which caused the music industry major problems, because it let people share music files over the Internet, instead of going and buying CDs in the usual way. The US music industry took legal action and in 2001, Napster was ordered to stay offline. The site returned in 2002, but as a service which people had to pay to use.

The Napster story raises an important point about copyright and ‘ownership’ of information on the Internet. Some of Napster’s users won’t have stopped to think that by sharing music files over the Internet, they were stealing from the publisher of the songs. The fact that it’s so easy for information to be copied and spread between lots of people online is likely to have a very negative effect on publishers, film-makers and video game developers. Throughout 2007 in the UK, people working in these businesses demanded that the government should tighten the laws on this kind of file sharing.

The iPod was designed by Apple and launched in October 2001. To put music on your iPod, you need Apple’s special iTunes software. Since April 2003, you’ve been able to buy and download music for your iPod from the online shop ‘iTunes’.

There are other similar gadgets on the market from other companies, but I’m using iPods as an example because I’ve got one - and I love it!

Another thing I LOVE about the Internet is YouTube. YouTube is a free video sharing website, which has seen a huge increase in popularity since it went live in November 2005. On the site, you can upload, view and share video clips with other people from all over the world – it’s brilliant, I love uploading my videos for people to watch. As users began sending clips they found to friends and colleagues via email, the number of visitors to the site increased, making YouTube one of the world’s most popular websites.

So what’s next for the Internet? Looking at everything we can do using our computers now, it’s exciting to think about the developments that might be just around the corner…