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Distributed Media

Distributed media (or multimedia) is one of those catch-all fitscapes of NDC research projects and emerging technologies. Products related to user-friendly multimedia creation, presentation, search, communication, and presentation within distributed environments come from this fitscape area.

Today's euphoria over the World Wide Web does not do justice to the true potential of the Internet. Given Moore's law and Gilder's law (which together give meaning to Metcalfe's law), it is inevitable that the Internet (or more likely Internet2) will support distributed interactivity based on processes that require increasingly larger amounts of data for visualization in real time. If there is a StarTrek-like holodeck in our future, distributed media will be one of the areas responsible for firing it up. Even without such ambitious dreams, this fitscape will enable a new generation of media-savvy users that are prepared for, and in fact demand, such developments.

Consider my 12 year-old niece Tyrell, who lives in an Idaho town so small that all grades in public school—K through 12—share physical facilities. Yet her school is not lacking in resources. One of the courses it offered last year was television production. Using low-cost production gear, made possible by rapid developments in digital media, her class studied hands-on processes and techniques that just a few years ago were limited to only the best-funded schools and professional production studios. Her entire class had the opportunity to leave behind the technology inhibitions and shortcomings that might have been all but inevitable for an earlier generation as geographically remote as hers. It's this catch-all NDC fitscape, facilitated and enabled by the economic implications of the Nth Law metatrends, that will be the enabler of the most prolific generation of computer scientists and users the world has seen. Telepresence will be as natural as cell phones to my niece and her peers, given their early exposure to distributed media, the tools that create it, and the networks that carry it.

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