Everything’s disconnected

Web 2.0 is truly integrated. It’s made up of nicely interconnecting platforms stuck together with RSS glue. I can post to Twitter from Facebook, or from my mobile phone, or any of a number of alternative services. I can read Google Reader on my mobile phone. I can show my Pandora channels on Facebook. But when it comes to listening to this stuff, everything is disconnected.

I have three main devices for listening to audio: my PC (which is pretty good for audio as it’s also the heart of my home production studio); my home cinema system in the lounge; and a stereo in the kitchen. But if I want to listen to anything on any of them, I have to use a different method.

On the PC I generally use iTunes for listening to music and podcasts, or Pandora for a more open-ended listening experience. But if I want to listen to that content anywhere else I have to physically copy it and move it, either on my mobile phone and plugin with jack adapters, or my partner’s iPod using a cradle adaptor.  It’s daft, to use the Northern brogue I grew up with.

And what if I want to listen to Pandora in the kitchen? Or just listen to podcasts in the lounge immediately after they’re downloaded without having to copy them first? For that matter, why can’t I use my funky new LCD TV for watching internet video content such as YouTube, or just to surf the internet? It has a VGA connection after all.

So, I’m considering linking this all up. I’ve used the Logitech Wireless Music System with great success both at work and as a Christmas present for my parents. It really is simplicity itself: plug it into the PC at one end, and the stereo inputs at the other, and you’re off. Anything that would normally come out of the PC now comes out of the stereo – iTunes, Media Player, Realplayer, YouTube. So I could just get one of them, with an additional receiver, and share audio between my study/studio, kitchen and lounge.

That’s great for simplicity (and the main reason I bought one for my slightly technophobic parents!). But it’s just audio. So I’m also thinking I might go that extra step and see if I can share files of any kind throughout any device.

The solution I have in mind is to use 802.11n wireless connectivity, which should have the bandwidth for streaming video, with a laptop or even second PC attached to the TV/home cinema system. With the addition of some free software I should then be able to run everything from the TV, as well as surf the internet, share photos, play games and so on.  I could use the Logitech device just for the stereo in the kitchen. I’m also considering investing in dedicated server storage, possibly the HP home server solution, which would then give me access to all my files across the internet. How much more integrated can you get? None. None more integrated.

Why am I telling you this? Because I honestly think this is the kind of project that helps people who work in tech PR actually get interested in tech. I’m hoping I’ll learn new stuff along the way and even get insights into how to use it professionally.

For example, I recently came across this fantastic post which, although old, is a great example of innovation in providing a client with something genuinely new, useful and integrated. I really do think you can only start coming up with new ideas like this when you explore what the tech can do for you, and I also wish more people working in tech PR would open themselves up to these possibilities.

It’s a project I’ve put together in my head over the past couple of weeks while I’ve been very ill with flu. I’m sure there will be drawbacks and pitfalls but it’ll be interesting figuring out ways around them.

Now I’m on the mend I’m starting to realise this wasn’t just delirium: it’s a way of making my tech as integrated as my content. I call it Home 2.0.

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6 thoughts on “Everything’s disconnected

  1. I’ll be interested to hear what the bandwidth throughput it like, and whether its sufficient for video. I’ve been tinkering with Home 2.0 for a while, trying to integrate audio devices, but also IP cameras. Data throughput and signal drop off (we’ve got a 500 year old house with 1.2m thick walls) are the greatest challenges. I’ve been eyeing up a pair of Ethernet over the mains network devices which linked with a wireless point could be a good way of extending a wireless network without attenuating the signal. I’ve tried setting up wireless repeaters, but struggle to maintain performance. Good luck.

  2. 802.11n is supposed to be sufficient for video and, being not as rich as you (!) I don’t live in a house with thick walls, just a flat with thin ones. I have come across the ethernet-over-the-main solution – interesting that you’re looking into it too. I think a ‘single-tech’ solution would be neater though. This is geeky, but fun! Fun because it’s geeky!

  3. Interesting post.

    I have wireless access to music (as we 1.0 types refer to “audio”, and I have a Sony entertainment system that lets me access video (as we 1.0 types refer to “content” or “media”) stored on the PC through the TV downstairs without too many problems – although my house is only 100 years old and the wireless kit is downstairs rather than upstairs with the PC if that makes a difference). I’m also experimenting with wireless access to video but bandwidth is a problem.

    You’re right that this is the way for non-tech tech journos and PRs to understand this stuff – it certainly makes it a lot easier for me to grasp the difference between 802.11 protocols when I’m trying to get a decent signal at home.

    But why are we referring to audio and content and, God preserve us, talking about “open ended listening experiences”? If there’s a faster way to get people to stop listening, I’m not sure what it is!

    Happy New Year, by the way.

  4. I guess you’re right about open-ended listening experience! I have to say I’m a bit ashamed about that phrase now I read it again. The flu must have addled my brain. Although now I’m officially a social media person, and not a copywriter, I’m allowed to say this stuff, right?

  5. Pingback: Home 2.0 - the results are in « Brendan Cooper, your Friendly PR Social Media Planner

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