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By Dr. Philip Baczewski, Director of Academic Computing and User Services
We live in an age of
increasingly diminishing media. Many of us just don't know it yet.
Of course, there are many definitions of media, the plural of medium
which has even more definitions in its singular form. For the
purposes of this discussion, I prefer the following definition of
medium from the WordNet database queried via
Paper is the medium of a book. A CD is the medium for music. A DVD is the medium for a movie, etc. Of course, you can argue the exactness of this description, but I think you get the general idea. Information Technologies have dramatically affected the development of media, particularly by enabling the digitization of information.
Media is diminishing both in size and existence. In the early days of
sound recording, a classical symphony was delivered via a box of 78 RPM
records. Later, that was reduced to a single vinyl LP, with the ability
to deliver one short symphony on each side (I know -- you are asking,
"what's an LP?" See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Album). A CD reduced the size of
the media to a further extent with even more capacity for musical time.
An iPod Nano
I propose that the next step will be that media will vanish into the
air -- literally. Apple Inc. seems to agree with me. Recently they
introduced the MacBook Air
Google and Microsoft are both scrambling to make information
management tools available as Internet-delivered applications. Soon, you
won't need Office on your hard drive or even need to keep files there.
So, it may not be too long before a computer just requires some
controlling software and the integration of a good browser. That's an
idea that Microsoft
* For a timely review of Photoshop Express, see Dr. Hinkle-Turner's article Photoshop Express - Free Online 'Photoshop' is a pretty good deal in this issue of Benchmarks Online.