Home 2.0 – the results are in

I wrote a while ago about about a personal project of mine: to integrate pretty much every audio and video source in my home that I could. My take on it was that if Web 2.0 represents integration, then so should my home. I called it Home 2.0.

Fortunately the media companies are satisfying this need. I wonder if comms companies are?

In theory

The system is based on an idea I had many years ago: that if, given broadcast was using digital in its production, I should be able to receive it digitally and therefore manipulate it, within parameters, to my own personal preferences.

At the time, it was virtually impossible. Broadcast was analogue and even if I could convert it, Bluetooth was conceptual and wireless was most definititely not mainstream so I couldn’t hook things up readily anyway. Digital TV, and the flexibility it offered, didn’t exist. But I knew it could be done.

Now, I have wireless. Broadcast is digital. Content can be shared, easily. The hardware is cheap.

In practice

So, what have I done? Well, my old self-built Win2K machine has Internet access. This is no longer by USB modem: it uses ethernet. Nothing new there. What this is plugged into, however, is a 802.11n Belkin wireless router. I have acquired another machine, an HP Pentium 4 desktop, and plugged stuff into it: namely, a Belkin N1 adaptor; a Creative Soundblaster audio card; a GeForce graphics card; a 750GB USB hard drive; and a wireless keyboard. It works. I can stream video without a hitch, with plenty of bandwidth left over potentially for HD video.

So, why am I telling you this?

Firstly because I’m slightly geeky (see right). Secondly because some people expressed interest in the outcome when I first posted about this. But also because I think my personal example illustrates two trends. 

Given that I’ve finally managed to do something I thought about years ago, I make two more predictions for the coming years:

1. One day, I will have a small black box. This will fit on my keyfob. It will detect every input/output device on any room I walk into, and detect them. In turn, they will detect it. I will immediately be able to listen to or watch any content I want to – including web – instantly and easily. I just have to see what’s available.

2.  Eventually, music and film companies will put up prices online for buying audio and video, very much like bidders do on financial markets today (exactly like it, in fact). You will be able to choose the best price for what you want, and buy. Simple. But it could go even deeper than that: instead of buying the entire track or film, it could be supplied in chunks – like BitTorrent, say – each of a certain time, each chunk of which is also bid on. So, your software could, while you’re watching the film or listening to the music, surf in the background continually looking for the best bidder for what you want to watch or listen to, and if it finds something cheaper, it buys it in, and seamlessly connects it to your stream. It’s exactly like a market, in which you buy at the best price.

I’ve done my bit. Every input/output device I have now links to every digital device. Wherever I want it, I can listen to or watch pretty much what I want to. Musicovery gives me broadly what I like.  Last FM gives me broadly what other people like me, like. Spotify might well bridge the divide between the two.

Media is doing its bit. The trend for personalisation of content looks set to continue, especially with new services such as BBC iPlayer and Channel 4oD

But are corporate comms companies doing their bit? How do we include messages in content that, as people become more sophisticated in their preferences and attitudes, may prefer to – and have power to – exclude?

The simple answer is: make them relevant. Every succesful comms company has done this. It’s just done it in a broad way for such a long time. It now has to start becoming more granular – more specifically relevant.

And how can it do this? Through feedback. Through exactly the same dynamics that enable people like me to receive the content I want. Each and every company, no matter what its market, whether media, finance, healthcare or tech, is going to have to start breaking its brand down into tiny little chunks that are consumable by that specific audience.

Social media now enables this to happen. If people find something relevant – whether that means useful, interesting, cool – they talk about and share it. All we need to do is make our clients appeal in the right way to the right audience, and off you go.

See? It’s easy. Honestly.

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