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The Future of TV – A Vision from 15 Years Ago


EngadgetHD dug up a post recently from Rex Sorgatz on the first issue of Wired magazine. It’s a fantastic archeological dig, so if you have time, do read the whole piece.

The item I found most interesting was the reference to a feature article by Nicholas Negroponte. Negroponte (yes, the Negroponte of OLPC fame) was predicting the future of TV from the vantage point of 1993, and he got a remarkable number of things right.

  • “What is needed is innovation in programming…”
    User-generated content, short video clips, and extended online experiences with character blogs, forums and chats. Yup, we got that.
  • “…new kinds of delivery…”
    Telco-delivered TV and Internet video. Okay, yes.
  • “…and personalization of content.”
    Targeted ads online and coming to the TV; programming how, when and where you want it. Check.

Here’s another quote from Negroponte: “If the viewer wants an old Humphrey Bogart movie at 8:17 pm, the telephone company will provide it over its twisted-pair copper lines.” Sounds an awful lot like on-demand video via AT&T’s U-verse service.

What a few people have harped on in Negroponte’s article, however, is the fact that he focused on personalized, on-demand content while predicting that image quality would be much less of a priority. Obviously the high-def trend is huge, which argues against Negroponte’s point. On the other hand, I heard an interesting observation last week. According to one Gartner analyst, the millennial generation – defined loosely as young adults who graduated from high school around the year 2000 – is more concerned with getting content than getting the highest quality content. It’s the baby boomer generation that cares most about getting HDTV.

So maybe Negroponte was more right than people realize?

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