The Internet: media jukebox at your fingertips

Published October 26th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

In the next ten years the convergence of the different IT (information technology) disciplines may bring spectacular changes to our social habits, more than what the last few years have already brought. Computers, mobile telephony, digital imaging, digital sound, Internet and television are being integrated in unique devices and systems that are turning science fiction into reality, now.  


If all of these applications are equally fascinating, perhaps the one that deserves the name of technological revolution more than any other is the possibility to watch movies over the Internet, on demand, and needless to say in glorious, truer-than-life digital image and sound quality.  


In Jordan, as in virtually all countries in the world, the current state of the networks over which we connect to the web, be it cable-based or wireless satellite-based, does not yet allow such tour-de-force. Although last month the main Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the Kingdom have doubled their bandwidth, therefore enabling users in Jordan to connect at up to 57Kbps, this speed — excellent for e-mail and browsing — is far from being enough for quality motion pictures and hi-fi sound.  


Much more bandwidth is required and it is not going to be here overnight. Which means that anything we can watch live over the web now is of poor quality and often comes to us in tiny size. The real thing is yet to come. But when it's here, TV programs and video rental (both VHS tapes and DVD), as we know them may become things of the past.  


The main, the quintessential difference is that we will be able to choose what to view, when to view it and how to view it and get instant satisfaction. Feel like watching “The Graduate” or “Star Wars” now? Just log on a website, select the film, settle a nominal pay-per-view fee via credit card and here you go. You can keep the display on your large PC monitor (19” and 21” will be standards by then) if you find it satisfactory or redirect the output to larger flat screens.  


Naturally whatever is possible for movies will be also possible for news, other features or simply music. The world will become like a giant jukebox, at your fingertips. No downloads to wait for, all access will be instant. It will be faster than picking up a CD from your own private collection, a collection that you might give up anyway.  


Traditional TV and radio are one-way channels. They come to us, talk to us but we can't communicate with them. They are not interactive. Our only choice is to tune in to the channel or station we prefer but that's as far as it goes. If what your favorite station is broadcasting is not to your taste then there is not much you can do about it except switch to another one.  


Internet on the other hand is a two-way communication system. By using the power to talk to it we obtain something invaluable — freedom. The freedom to watch and listen according to our taste, to our needs and at the time we want it.  


In principle we are already there. We can visit the website we want, read news, watch quality images. But video clips, again, come in small size, in mediocre to poor quality and after a download time, because of the current bandwidth, speed limitations and traditional modems.  


Now the whole system is like a door that is but ajar. It won't be long before it opens wide.  

— ( Jordan Times )  


By Jean-Claude Elias

© 2000 Mena Report (

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