To date, I think most would describe the web as a medium dominated by written discourse. If we measured the most addicting activities online, from communication media like IM and email, to discussion forums and chat, to the popularity of blogs, written dialogue really has been the star of the show.
Recently though, as in the past 2 years, we’ve seen audio and video content make huge strides. Most of us have watched the inroads made by podcasting, vodcasting & the youtube generation, each given the media moniker of the next ‘great one’ set to dominate the web. And technology wise, it’s hard to argue: streaming content would seem to be getting better by the day, and downloading movies & TV shows is easier than it’s ever been.
A big question for me now is which way will the web turn content wise? Is this a case of the entertainment value of audio & video -VS- the exchange of ideas within the textual web? or are we simply adding another layer? While I suspect it is the later, I also wonder which way thinking professionals like lawyers will turn. Will they market themselves by sticking to their strengths with the written word, or become ‘rock stars’ and attempt to market to the masses? If the answer depends on the market audience, the next generation of personal injury lawyers may just need a few theatre courses under their belt prior to law school admission.
Deep down I think (hope) web video will play a lesser role. Like TV, web video is a passive communication tool, and comes with the same issues – less interactive, doesn’t promote literacy, and rarely involves an exchange of ideas. It’s ugly one-way communication in my books. And with the interactive web (2.0?) and online gaming seeing a renaissance, I still see the core of written discourse within the web as going strong. The next generation of web users under the age of 30 also give me hope – they are much more in tune with the written web (driving it?), and I believe there was something recently published about them buying more books.
If my parents were right, and TV rots my brain, then web video can’t be any different, right? or am I just a luddite in disguise?