How has the distribution of digital content changed in the 21st century? As moderator Michael Stroud of iHolywood Forum explained, digital content has enabled huge numbers of people to participate in Internet communities, and to use the web for entrepreneurial innovation. He noted that Moore's Law — developed by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 to show that computer integrated circuit capacity doubles about every two years — can serve as a sign of the times for Internet growth as well. With that growth in capacity has come a surge in television, movie and music content available to the public. The panel agreed that the future is bright for digital innovation.
As the Internet is bombarded with the more sites like YouTube and Itunes, we can expect to see a changing trend that includes the seamless exchange between the cell phone and Internet, and "open networking," in which the restrictions on equipment types and modes of communications, content and platforms do not exist. This openness will facilitate the oneness between the device and medium, said Stroud, adding that we already have massive networks to handle this phenomenon. "Distribution of content will be frictionless and not bounded by any platform in the future," he predicted.
As more companies like his emerge, said Eric Feng of Hulu.com, "we are going to see the bridge between TV and the Internet." Hulu.com allows viewers to watch television clips and episodes for free online. Having content that is available on demand and flexible will make the distribution pipeline "low friction," he said. The upcoming battle will be to ensure that quantity doesn't supplant quality.
The biggest issue for content distribution will be to ensure it remains free, the panelists said, noting that newspapers and the music industry are facing financial trouble ahead unless their content is either offered free online or with reduced entry points, such as that offered by the iTunes music downloads library, where songs cos just 99 cents. They also warned that it will be a challenge to monetize any content unless it is of high quality.
In a world of techie teenagers who embrace Facebook and MySpace, we see both the changing mindset and the change in content that is posted readily available. Younger Internet users aren't bothered by the lack of privacy, said Andres Jordan ot Deutsche Telecom/Tmobile. "We are trading privacy for accountability," he added, "and we need balance." As times change, attitudes about online privacy will change, and its importance will change accordingly, he suggested.
The vision in 10 years for content distribution is going to be dramatically different, the panelists said, predicting that content will become free, and that convenient and social environments will dominate. The Internet will become a platform of common interests and shared hobbies, becoming the lifeline for content generation.