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The year of streaming media? 13 June 2000 Edition
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Twenty years ago, every year was going to be "the year of the LAN" -- but it never really happened like that. Instead, the LAN became ubiquitous in a slow and gradual manner over the following 10 years.

The same appears to be happening with streaming media -- every year someone announces that streaming media is about to pose a real threat to broadcast TV and that it will empower anyone to become a star. Once again -- we haven't seen any major surge in video, or even audio content on the Web, it's just coming along slowly and steadily.

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The latest move in this progression is the announcement today that Apple and Real have signed a deal that will see Quicktime technology licensed for use in the Real Player.

No big deal in itself -- but this, combined with the continued roll-out of broadband technologies such as cable, satellite and ADSL is certainly keeping the ball rolling.

However, there's still something missing...

Good, amateur content.

One of the reasons the Web took off like it did was that virtually anyone could create a web page and/or become a publisher with very little real effort. As a result, the World Wide Web quickly became what is possibly the single largest repository of information and entertainment available in our modern world.

Just about any query keyed into one of the major search engines will produce thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands of matches -- and many of the best sites are a work of love or that of a small entrepreneur with limited funding.

By contrast, creating, producing and sustaining audio or video-based content is a whole lot harder, more time consuming and more expensive. Add to that the fact that people with the kind of voices and faces that lend themselves to these media are not that common (regardless of how much many of us think we've got what it takes) -- and you can see why there's still a dearth of streaming media content out there.

Then there's the problem we listeners/viewers face when trying to find the streaming content we're looking for. Regular search engines have little trouble indexing the content of a web page because it's largely text. But how do you index a piece of streaming audio or video?

Most search engines have included some method of searching for video/audio -- but they're frequently a lot less than perfect. Enter a new player by the name of 4 SingingFish.com.

This site claims to be "the largest index of streaming media and MP3s on the planet -- a very bold claim indeed, only time will tell if it's true.

Fran Says
Fran O'Sullivan is an often outspoken commentator on things business and political and while I don't always agree with her sentiments and opinions, I think she has hit the nail on the head with 4 this piece. Your opinion may differ of course.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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