Primetime hypermedia: Why now?

The umbrella title for this series of columns--Primetime Hypermedia--suggests that, for what used to be called multimedia, the long march through the desert is finally over. The mission of these columns is to explore and document the promised land that we are now starting to colonize. But here's a question I've been asked a lot lately: Why now?

The question is subtler than you might think because, in some ways, little has changed. We've had audio and video on the internet for nearly as long as there's been an internet. At times I feel like an archaeologist hacking through underbrush to find artifacts left by an almost-forgotten tribe. When I investigated SMIL, for example, the trail I followed had been blazed years before. The video genre I've rechristened screencasting has antecedents that go back a decade or more, as does the audio genre now called podcasting. So, again, why now?

Two reasons. The platform for hypermedia has matured, and so has the publishing environment. In both cases, obvious and not-so-obvious factors are in play. [Full story at O'Reilly Network]

There's one update to this piece. I had referred to my iPod Ludditism:

Though I've contributed audio content to the podosphere, as a consumer of podcasts I'm still on the trailing edge. One of these days I'll own an iPod or equivalent hard-disk-based player, and I'll enjoy the complete podcatching experience. But good old-fashioned Right-Click-Save-Link-As to my Creative MuVo takes me where I need to go today.
Well, to celebrate the emergence of hypermedia and the arrival of spring (which we here in New Hampshire spell "mud season"), I bought an iPod mini the other day. The first thing to go was the earbuds. Apparently I am the only person on the planet whose ear canals are of different sizes, neither of which comfortably accepts a hard-shelled earbud. So the pearly whites lasted as long as it took to walk from the Apple store to Radio Shack, where I bought a comfortable pair. Bonus: they're black, so I'm not a mugging target, which isn't an issue in Keene, NH but is, I'm told, in real cities.

Even the mini is a tad heavy for jogging, so I'm keeping my MuVo. But I am, indeed, enjoying the podcatching experience. Instead of filling the iPod with my music library, which I'm bored with, I'm purging iTunes of my frequently-heard stuff and I'm subscribing (with iPodder) to Webjay playlists, ITConversations, and some of Adam Curry's picks at For now, at least, the iPod's mission isn't to rehash my old favorites, but instead to play stuff I've never heard before.

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