The End of the Media Convergence Hoax

For several years already we have been hearing a lot of hot air along the lines of “all media are the same bits and pieces of information”. This utter nonsense is going to come to a stop sooner or later — and not only do I wish it would be sooner, I also see signs that it will be soon.

The primary sign I see is the divergence of data. Whereas machine readable formats are becoming increasingly semantically codified, non-machine readable formats are becoming increasingly raw. For example: when content on Facebook is “liked”, that is but one bit of information. Likewise, online friendship is nothing more than a simple switch that gets turned on or off. On the other hand, image files, video files, audio files — all not “machine readable” (meaning there is no code a machine could use to “understand” the meaning or significance of the individual bits — as there might be for “like” or “friendship”) is incessantly being upgraded to ever more high definition — meaning more bits per unit.

This divergence is becoming increasingly obvious whereever there are limits to the volume of data that can be transported. A 4K screen will require such large amounts of data that transporting such large files over the Internet might become prohibitively expensive, especially in bandwidth-constrained environments.

While at the turn of the millennium there was much talk about all bits being the same, it is becoming more and more apparent that whereas codified information belongs on a computer, audio and video files belong in different a setting — the “lean back” media center in the living room, not the “lean forward” business machine in the den.

On one of my browser apps, I already have images turned off, because I am mostly interested in machine-readable text. I expect at some point the illustrated magazine will experience a comeback… perhaps not quite in paper, but in returning to the living room setting, and away from the environment of the more computational den.

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