The future of digital

 This is the continuation of the presentation that I gave at the meeting on future policies in intellectual property.

 Professor Negroponte advocated bits over atoms and virtual over real, and that change has come about. A world beyond that is here. The trend is toward intelligence, wearable, and ubiquitous. Another way of putting it is, Clever, always, everything.

1)    Intelligence: (Clever)
Media creates content automatically without your interference. It acts as your autonomous agent, expressing and creating in the world of the net.

2)    Wearable: (Always)
Mobile brought us anytime, but with wearables the switch is never off. Now we have 24-hr (always) information. Tactile information and smells become content. Our pulses and brainwaves become content.

3)    Ubiquitous: (Everything)
Bits enter all atoms. Even towns become media and release information. Things produce information that leads to content.

 As a result of this, new problems arise. For example, to what extent can an agent represent us? How can we be held responsible for communications and contracts instigated by our agents?

 How will we protect privacy when wearable devices are always on, always gathering and accumulating information? How will we handle the right to cut off the ubiquitously accumulating flow of information?

 Also, how will we handle the rights of things? Does a thing that creates content hold the copyright? What will happen if a thing releases deceitful information? What happens when a robot controlled over the internet does a good deed or perpetrates a crime? Where does the responsibility lie?

 More and more issues will appear in the future, and these will require policy considerations. We must work to imagine what they will be and how to solve them.


Content up to the present

  I was asked to give a small presentation on the history of content to a meeting that was considering new policies for IP assets.

 The first musical instrument was made from the femur of a badger 43,000 years ago in Slovenia. It all starts with music. Next we had Altamira 18,500 years ago, and Lascaux 15,000 years ago. At the time, people thought and expressed themselves with images.
Letters werent invented until around 7000 B.C. So content developed from music to pictures to letters, and was limited to concerts or cave walls; single locations.

  Popularization of text was made possible by the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in 1455; of pictures by Niepce in 1826; and of music in 1877 with Edisons invention of the phonograph. Basically, this took place in the reverse order of appearance. Moving pictures came on the scene in 1895 with the films of the Lumière brothers.

 The 20th century was the era of telecommunications. With telephone and television, content and communication were freed from the constraints of time and place.

 The next transition period was 30 years ago. Nintendos famicon made it possible to play with pictures. Media continued to diversity from 1983 to 1985. In Japan it was called the New Media Boom. Media other than TV and telephone began to diversify and advance. Analog media diversified. In 1984, Steve Jobs released the Macintosh computer, beginning the age of the personal computer. Now anyone could create content with their desktop computer.

 Ten years later, in the 90s, a new movement emerged. In Japan it was called the multimedia boom.  Personal computers and mobile phones were popularized, and the internet spread.

 Information, movies, books, TV programs, music, and games all began to flow on top of the network, and the concept of content was born.

 The content industry was expected to be one of growth, but it didnt live up to expectations. From 1995 to 2005 the market growth in Japan was 5.8%, which was equal to the growth of the GDP and not something one would necessarily call a growth industry. In recent days it has even begun to contract. On the other hand, the amount of data produced, by my calculations, has increased 21 fold.

 Now, in recent years, media is again in the midst of an upheaval for the first time in 20 years. 1) Devices have moved from TVs, PCs and mobile phones to smartphones, tablets, digital signage, and smart TVs. 2) The 20 year plan to digitize the domestic network has succeeded with terrestrial digital broadcasting and the cloud has been born. 3) While content as a service has been sluggish, social media has come to dominate.

 These three factors have changed the face of the world. In the face of this, we must wait to see what will become of intellectual property and content.


Want to visit a cool and pop country?

 Would you like to study in Japan? I took part in a PR event put on by Japanese universities geared toward UK students and talked about pop culture.

 In 2020, Tokyo will host the Olympics. Who should be at the opening ceremony? Toyota? Honda? Sony? That might work out, but they arent people. There arent any famous politicians. However, we could have Gundam, Son Goku, Pikachu, DeathNote, or Bleach. Japan is a country of pop culture.

My first trip overseas was to London in 1981. It was scary, and full of punks and motorcycle gangs. I was put in a horrible situation, but I was very stimulated, and when I returned to Japan I helped to form the band Shonen Knife. In the 90s Microsoft chose Shonen Knife after The Rolling Stones for use in their commercials, the band became world famous. Unfortunately, in the 20 years since then no other Japanese band has hit the world stage like that.

However, recently something strange has happened. Miku Hatsune was voted as the musician most people wanted to hear perform at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. In the end, it didnt happen and it was Paul McCartney who sang, but why did people vote for Miku Hatsune? She was born on the net of technology and culture. In the past 20 years Japan has transformed into a pop country.

Japanese pop culture isnt just a matter of display. Take robots, for example. Inspired by manga and anime, living computers have been developed. Vending machines are another example. Japan is a vending machine paradise. One can purchase noodles, sushi, banana, eggs, and even underwear from a vending machine. These ubiquitous machines are also set to change digital media.

 How about using media in the toilet, since this is a country with Washlets? That was proposed, and SEGA made it a reality. Signage now competes for ones attention while in the toilet. Industry is crazy enough to produce such a machine. Thats one reason that I recommend that you come to Japan to take part in a university-industry project.

 Adobe held a world-wide survey to determine the most creative countries. Japan was at #1 with 36%. The U.S. was #2 with 26%, and England was at 9%. In terms of creative cities, Tokyo received 30% of the vote, with New York at 21% and London at 8%.

 Please come to visit Tokyo!


Impressions of “TV is a Condition”

The chairman of the television union, Yutaka Shigenobu, published Television is a Condition. Its a digital publication about the history and culture of television, and a theory of management.

 He showed recognition that the liberated broadcast erashifted to the industrialized era of the 80s, and accurately portrays how he fought against the structured era. It seems like quite a fight.

 The behind-the-scenes stories are interesting. Mr. Shigenobu invited the director of a movie about the Berlin Olympics, Leni Riefenstahl, to Tokyo. I was surprised to hear that Berlin Olympics gold-medalist marathoner Mr. Sohn Kee-chung arrived at the Haneda airport and left immediately after saying hello. I believe that a one-hour symposium could be held just on that story.

 The talk of wooing Jeanne Moreau in a 3-hr program on impressionism was also great. I want to see it. In 1981, Mr. Shigenobu was 40 years old. One is led to believe that great work should be accomplished while still young.

 There are stories of his time at the MIT Media Lab in 1985 when he interviewed Negroponte and Minsky. This was right after the lab was founded. Id like to see that film.

 Mr. Shigenobus media and policy theories are interesting. He claims that Digital will represent the Renaissance-style revolution of the next generation. Personally I believe that rather than liken it to an industrial revolution, it should be seen as a cultural revolution.

 He also expressed frustration with Steve Jobs statement that, We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on. and he gropes for a solution to this problem.

 The Fin-Syn (financial interest and syndication rules) in the U.S., television production rules in Britain, financial restoration policies for TV makers in France, and all such rules that separate broadcast and production all point out the low level of secondary use in Japan. They show that we can expect the arrival of a new environment that overcomes this problem. I too am waiting for this.

  However, the things that we can expect to arise from 2nd generation tools will not come out of media theory, rather from the individuals who regain control of media. It is people and software that will reproduce TV.

 Mr. Shigenobu believes that in Japans digital age, with the required technology and industry, society will transform even without revolutions or battles. One can see a new future in this. I am anxious to see the shape of this new future.