I’ve spent the last few weeks delving into the world of crypto, and lo and behold, there might be something there. Part of the problem is that I rarely sense innovation that revolves around the inevitability of people making big bucks. Instead, I become aware of something that might be bubbling up, like a new Apple chip or series of chips that create a new market opportunity. The M1 series was such a development; it provided a palpable layer of power that changed the equation for how I use computing. As with Tesla, market conditions are changing as chip production is integrated.
The iPhone and iPad transformed Apple and the technology industry. The obvious element was the touchscreen interface, app ecosystem, and decoupling of the end of the great PC era. It used to be that computers were a way to leverage software as agents of change in our daily lives. I learned about the interfaces of Office, then the underlying structure of operating system services, then the network connection point. In a way, it was like the structure of cinema: the skeleton which was the plot, the scaffolding which was the dialogue, the narrative which was the link between the characters and the situation, and the rhythm which was the product of the montage and the inset. screen context. The latter was the furthest in its reveal, but key to humor, music, and not just what is seen and heard but what is inferred.
iPhones were how Steve Jobs made the iPad. The target was personal and professional communications, easier to market than a PC replacement. There were the well-established carriers, which supported the perception that price was guided by physical distance. Today we don’t think about the concept of local versus long distance. Our friends and family are equidistant from us and each other. Our policy remains governed by historical measure. The Electoral College maintains the distribution of power in the Upper House regardless of population; the smallest and largest of the states each have 2 senators. Power runs through and is measured by the fractured structure of gerrymandering and filibuster.
Before the iPhone, videoconferencing was limited to corporate connections between central offices and satellite offices. After the iPhone, every new entrant to the network was given the effective unlimited bandwidth of the first domino carrier to fall – AT&T. By signing an exclusive agreement with an operator, Apple has effectively pointed the finger at the rest of the industry. The essential disruptive feature of unlimited access was only possible with one network. Any other operator has reduced the feature set of revolutionary hardware. On the iPhone, audio has become a first-class citizen. With IP calling, the cost limitation of the previous POTS generation has been erased. As other networks made their way to broadband, the iPhone grew in size, along with video conferencing and the app ecosystem.
Even today, third-party apps like Facebook Messenger are often used more frequently than the iPhone’s built-in iMessage. The Facebook application relies on audio, video, messaging, screen sharing and the beginnings of e-commerce – across international borders, proprietary phone systems, video and wireless standards. device to device via Apple’s Airplay Wi-Fi grid. The phone has become the hub for watches, AirPods, stationary bikes, telemedicine and iPads. What started as a small form factor iPad has now absorbed the big brother as a replacement device for the PC. Cue the M1.
Once the iPhone/iPad iOS operating system could run on M1 Macs, it seemed likely that the app ecosystem would migrate to the Mac. Notifications seem to be better supported on Mac than before, but there’s no real synchronization between the two platforms. Some video production apps like LumaFusion run on iPad and M1 without modification, but I was happy to use the iPad as a staging machine for editing and the M1 for transcribing conversations and interviews. The iPad was recently upgraded to use the M1 chips, but for now I’m so happy with the Mac Book Pro that I’d rather move the majority of my computer out of the iPad and split it between the iPhone and the Mac M1. I didn’t expect it, but the pandemic and its acceleration of working from anywhere has been the driving force behind it.
With video conferencing becoming an essential service in the new office, the M1 changed my media consumption significantly. Streaming tools like Restream and Zoom’s cross-platform ubiquity make it trivial to produce a video chat across multiple platforms. Airpods allow us to work on multiple streams and editing projects across multiple iPads and M1s, with an elastic subscription model that cuts overall costs by up to 10-1 on a monthly basis. Screen sharing on Zoom will soon be atomized as APIs open up to allow distribution of live editing and audio sweetening on iPads while M1s (a Mac Book Air and Pro) output text and manage publications on social networks. The absence of fan noise makes the M1s ideal for use in live production. And when the trips and events come back, the whole studio gets involved. Blur mode maintains a consistent visual feel.
Then there’s the live audio trend, which relies on the same tools and puts an emphasis on the iPhone. The two main platforms have distinct personalities: Twitter Spaces takes advantage of the social graph, while Clubhouse seems more aggressive in adding features to keep pace with increasingly larger competitors. Twitter’s tools for downloading recordings are clunky; the 30-day limit on reruns needs to shift to a more producer-centric perspective. Over time, the two sets of features should combine like notifications did on Apple and Android. The horse-racing, sports-seller aspect of the creator economy may spark media interest, but the most tangible impact will emerge in the iterative wave of what David Weinberger has called small, loosely joined pieces.
Clubhouse’s new Shared on Clubhouse tool seems focused on earballs, quantity rather than influence. You can broadcast a commentary to followers, expanding the social graph to accommodate not just live participation, but especially Replay listeners. These notifications attract more organic groups of shared rooms and interests that exist outside of the more traditional reporter interviews and other celebrity-focused events. Sharing statistics promote a kind of interactive guide at the top of shared rooms, and listeners become first-class citizens with the ability to comment and aggregate their findings at the same mid-level that retweets drove the viral social graph of Twitter. Of course, the adoption of these tools by Twitter or LinkedIn will prove successful in their larger pools. If crypto fans prove prescient, decentralized open standards may facilitate a real-world use case for an alternative to centralized replacements for first-party and third-party cookies.
None of this means that these networks will become an important part of our work or our social lives. Keeping up with the news on a regular basis is a frustrating exercise for those more used to legacy platforms such as newspapers and magazines, or what some call the new landline – cable. But learning about the issues of the day seems like a waste of time when large swathes of the country dismiss even the simplest actions like vaccinations as some sort of political plot. The characteristics of a replay economy may turn out to be more important than the misinformation mills that social networks struggle with.
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The Gillmor Gang – Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live on Friday January 14, 2022.
Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor
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