Saturday, September 14, 2013

At this point, technophobes might like to leave the room ...

(Above: at least the pond can be amused and superior about the Dutch convention centre's notion of 'The Beach')

At this point, technophobes, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and sundry other luddites might like to tiptoe out of the room for a while.

The thing that's most noticeable wandering around IBC this year is how stone cold fatherless dead 3D is in relation to commercial television and domestic viewing. It might continue to survive at the high end for Hollywood tent pole pictures, but the circus has moved on for the foreseeable future from a vision of a four-eyed lounge room, and the world looks completely different from the way it was a few years ago at NAB in Vegas.

Instead, as everyone predicted, the future is seen to be in 4K, whereby the quality of post-production online suites ends up on big screens in the home.

It'll be a few years yet before it rolls out, but already the gear is there for the complete supply chain - though if anyone attempts to sell you a 4K TV which isn't H.265 compliant - like the wretches at Sony, feel free to berate them up hill and down dale.

The thing about 4K screens is that they almost make 3D redundant, such is the clarity, the sense of depth and the vividness of colour, and they can be made big enough to dwarf Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 nightmare of a wall filled with incessant teletube images.

No doubt many will mutter and wonder why people think they have to have a screen the size of a small multiplex, but then they once said that about the gigantor 23" TV screen.

The other thing is the amount of sheer grunt and data required for dealing with the 4K behemoth, though the codecs out and about already do a wondrous job of delivering a compressed but still startling image.

There are other interesting movements - ultra HD cameras are now so small they can be put on to the smallest of drones - and what was the odd sight of a bunch of foolish ideologically driven animal liberationists invading privacy could soon stand into a media free for all, unless politicians begin to get a clue. Perhaps what's needed are a few drones circling outside motel windows in Canberra as the pollies feel frisky ...

And there was of course an unholy number of people peddling optical fibre (along with satellite) as the only viable solution to the needs of 4K.

Which sadly brings us back to Australia, because it so happens that Mark Latham's essay on the Labor party for The Quarterly Essay this year, was lurking on a lounge chair.

It purports to be about future directions for the Labor party, and Latham spends much time on climate change, and education, and the way of dealing with markets, and the infamy of the authoritarian right.

But he barely mentions new technologies, their implications and their possibilities. There's the occasional acknowledgement of new information-rich people and their workplace mobility and differing expectations from smokestack workers, but so far as the intertubes goes, there's nothing. Nada. Zip. It's a bit like writing about future directions in the days of Gutenberg and failing to mention the printing press, and for all Latham's claims to offer new directions, it's a dismal, depressing effort.

Which naturally brings us to Malcolm Turnbull. The pond has started to think about Turnbull by using a favourite metaphor, the way silent movie directors and stars adapted to the talkies. In general, they didn't - whether it was D. W. Griffiths, or a nervous Charles Chaplain, or a hapless Buster Keaton, who made a string of silent masterpieces and then retired to a farm to drink himself to death.

The best of the silent era had so refined their understanding of the art of the silent form that they couldn't adjust to the new ways of doing things.

A stroll around IBC induces a kind of digital shock which would be most salutary for Turnbull. He couldn't go on about copper for a nanosecond, not when he had the 1,400 plus exhibitors pounding on his eyeballs with their future digital dreamings.

He is in fact old school intertubes, a kind of Buster Keaton - let's hope he doesn't in the end retire to a farm and drink his life away in guilt for pandering to the technophobe Abbott. His "solution", which is to deliver a cheap, half-arsed version, will in the end cost more, and contain many ambiguities - why for example would you disconnect the HCF cables which can already offer 100 down, for the sake of deformed copper in the ground which if replaced could perhaps offer 25 down?

It's humiliating, actually, for the pond to have to listen to Europeans scoff at Turnbull and copper. Oh sure you can find copper supplies at the IBC, but you can also find tape splicers for people still wanting to run their 35mm films into digital so they can build a library, and exploit the heck out of it ... digitally ... on their big new screens.

What's even more problematic is that you can roam around the 1,400 plus exhibitors and be hard pressed to find an Australian company. You could herd them into a corner of the Sony exhibition and take them out with a single shotgun blast.

Of course it's not just all about screens for entertainment - there's one exhibit detailing robot human interactions using 4K for surgery over 2,000 kms. And it's not just 4K. Dear old Japanese government broadcaster NHK who helped start the game with analogue HD were busy announcing their plans to shortly unveil an 8K system. Perhaps they should skip 32 and go straight to 64.

But where does this leave Australia, ground down by Murdoch, envying Apple, and wanting to herd the sheep into closed systems away from the anarchy of  super-fast inter tubes?

... In the hands of a pandering Turnbull, offering a little but not too much and certainly not enough.

This isn't just a reflection on where Turnbull's head space is at; it's a bipartisan attitude, as shown by Mark Latham's inability to see a future or imagine life in the cloud, preferring to conjure up apocalyptic visions of a world torn apart by climate change (while dissing the greenies for doing the same).

No doubt no one will much mind in the land of the lotus eaters, and now with copper-headTurnbull pandering to technophobe Abbott, safe in his own delusions about what he's offering by way of connectivity, travellers who head off to NAB or IBC can be assured of a gloomy time - confronted by all the digital technological wonders of the age, and not many geeks in view, and certainly not an Australian politician with even half a clue ...

But as a result, the pond is thinking of doing a joint venture with Malcolm Turnbull in the 4K area. Who knows, if you join in, it could turn out to be a very good investment for your great grandchildren, or with a bit of luck, perhaps by 2084 ...

(Below: as close to down under content as you get at IBC)


  1. Ah, but he does have an eye for the main chance, DP. Thanks for the tour of the expo.
    On a different note, Franzen's new book may hold a clue.

  2. I hope you've taken the opportunity to jump on a bike whilst in Amsterdam and ridden on their sophisticated (but by far not the best in the NL) cycling infrastructure to experience why Amsterdammers mainly use bikes (and public transport) to get around their city safely and conveniently. This is another technologically advanced model that the rest of the world should follow if they want a prosperous economic future.

  3. You're the only person apart from my mother I've ever heard say 'stone cold fatherless dead' (though she used to say 'motherless' and 'broke'). Thank you for reminding me of a wonderful phrase.

  4. I hadn't heard of "IBC" so decided to look it up.
    Yep, Googled "IBC" and find "". Click on the link and..... nothing.
    Entered into and bugger me it's down.

    Or is it?

    Is this a cunning plan by the new powers that be to restrict the information flow, particularly with regards to interwebs technology?

    Perhaps not but certainly ironic.

  5. It needs more seagulls.

  6. DP wherever you are I hope you are able to catch up with Paul Sheehan's warm tribute to Julia Gillard today.

  7. Word on the interwebb is that 6 boats carrying asylum seekers have been intercepted in the 2 weeks since the election. All without a word in/on any msm...

  8. IBC is back up and running Anon
    Perhaps it was running on copper ...

    As for stone cold fatherless, shawjonathan, the pond unilaterally decided that it should be the father that represented symbolic abandonment rather than poor old mothers who cop it all the time ...


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