Ashish Desai, Assistant Director, Multimedia Technologies, Villanova University
Early in 2018 and looking into the future, there are definitive macro and micro trends in audio-visual technology. Your organization’s resources and attention are likely being driven by creative platforms, tools and technologies commanded by the people that you serve behaving like creators as much as consumers. I see this as a part of the meta-trend of breaking tradition at all levels. The resulting fluidity and uncertainty is the new norm affecting the speed of our strategy, logistics, and implementation. We are being challenged to match the activism, engagement, and dynamism of our users.
The days of traditional A/V, with its limited scope, function and purpose have come and gone. Multimedia is integrated into the DNA of life at home, at school and at work. SnapChat, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, Twitch.TV, Facebook live, Tablets, Microsoft Surface, mobile devices, personal computers, communication suites like Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, gaming devices, app stores are just a few of the platforms, tools and technologies that are all pinging your infrastructure and your staff. For much of history the consumption of media was driven by the few for the many. There has been a paradigm shift. The ubiquity of the technology and the simplicity of the software have made it possible for consumption and creation to be driven by the many for the many.
Each of the platforms, tools and technologies listed previously not only enable consumption but they encourage, highlight, and reward creation. It would be a mistake to think of limitations to this shift by isolating it to entertainment and leisurely pursuits. It would be holding to the traditional definition of a content creator. Simply, in this new paradigm we are all content creators. Increasingly, educators in primary and secondary institutions create A/V based content to teach using tools Mediasite, vbrick, Panopto, Camtasia, built-in LMS features, and free tools like YouTube. Using the A/V medium students collaborate, demonstrate learning, and earn degrees the using A/V as primary medium. Professionally, external and internal communications increasingly leverage multimedia to communicate and execute core business functions. What does this mean for your organization? Depending on your core business, your network capacity, your storage and data retention policies, hardware configurations given to users, investments in enterprise video platforms, software licensing, staffing, budgets and the design of your physical work environment are all impacted.
Multimedia is integrated into the DNA of life at home, at school and at work
Users are now Creators
It would be a mistake to think that our traditional users/ consumers will return to their non-creator status. As the analog world is built and customized as a representation of our needs, wants, and culture. The digital world, with great momentum, moves past expectations of functionality and bends more and more to our will. Through personalization of nearly all aspects of the user experience, apps like SnapChat, Instagram, Apple iMessage with their floaty hearts, masquerade ball mask filters, and motion tracked animal avatars synchronized with our voices would seem like non-essential features.
The significance gradual and continued evolution of media and technology in communication cannot be overstated. The tipping point of these integrated technologies in AR / VR as ground breaking concepts are within reach not because of the absolute maturity of the hardware, software and day to day use cases, rather it is because they connecting and melding the digital and the physical world to such a point that it will be a distinction without a difference. As the technology spreads pervasively without limitations of specialized knowledge, economics, geography or social class, this new canvas both virtual and physical will mark a new era where people will feel the power, agency and command over their digital-physical reality. This state of mind will not limit itself to AR / VR. The expectation that technology bend and conform to the desires of its users as language does in the hands of an author, poet, or orator, or like fabric in the hands of a fashion designer, will become universal.
Convergence and Uncertainty
Traditionally, technology and user behavior were distinct entities with separate maturity cycles. Now they exist in a quantum super state where they are all states at the same time. From moment to moment, technology could be driving user behavior, users could be driving technology, balancing one another or are all states at the same time. The only certainty is uncertainty and the pressures to create a dynamic, agile, and efficient organization to address this dynamic are immense. Some leaders will have the capability and resources available to foster organizations that have staff who can simultaneously be highly specialized subject matter experts and productive generalists. Yet others will need to take advantage of the evolution in on-demand “…As a Service” vendors. Our collective state it seems comes with a sense of irony. Though we are challenged with what looks like an infinite number of different problems to solve, we very well may have an equal number of solutions available. We are very well equipped to meet the passion, eagerness, and creativity of our users.