I’ve Seen The Future, And It’s Confusing!


It’s the dawn of a new year–filled with excitement, possibilities and promise. By now all of the new HDTV sets are hooked up, new iPods are formatted, iTunes accounts are set up, and BitTorrent 4.2.2 is properly installed. Let the media frenzy begin.

Just one problem … according to studies by SA and Leichtman, over 56 percent of the people who bought HDTV sets so far (close to 9 million people) have not acquired the equipment needed to actually watch anything in HD. Why? Twenty-eight percent think the picture is already better on their new HDTV set; 23 percent think the HD graphic on the broadcast means that they are actually viewing the show in HD. This makes the flashing 12:00 on the average VCR seem insignificant by comparison.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the pod-people with new, Generation 5 video iPods downloading to their hearts content. Free software for Macs and very inexpensive software for PCs make converting video files to iPod format a breeze. Yes, it can take overnight to rip a DVD or a few hours to convert an existing file, but you don’t need to be actively involved in the process; it’s “set it and forget it.”

This is the bifurcated world that is evolving, and the question is, how will it play out? Will we truly see a war for the hearts and minds of techno-geeks vs. techno-weaks? Is it just a generational thing? And, since there is big money in targeting and consumer relevance, can we expect complete cultures to evolve around these two groups?

Are you a Techno-geek or a Techno-weak? Take the test (don’t cheat, no Google!):

A. To view an HDTV picture you need …

1) a flat screen monitor, preferably 16:9
2) an HDTV set and cable or satellite service
3) an EDTV monitor, an HD signal and a Remote Control
4) an HDTV monitor connected to an HD signal

B. Which of the following video file formats does not need to be converted to play in a Generation 5 iPod?

1) .mpg
2) .asf
3) .m4p
4) .avi

C. Which is the most popular aspect ratio for theatrical motion pictures?

1) 4:3
2) 16:9
3) 18:8

D. True or False: BitTorrent is just a brand name; it is not a file distribution protocol. Answer Key:

A-4, B-3, C-3, D-F Score: 0-2 right = Techno-weak; 3 right = Techno-geek; 4 = Uber-geek. Why aren’t you busy reading tech manuals? Shelly Palmer

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.



PreviousI’d Like Premium Internet, Please NextPutting CES 2006 in Perspective

Get Briefed Every Day!

Subscribe to my daily newsletter featuring current events and the top stories in technology, media, and marketing.