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Archive for December 28th, 2010

What Technology Wants for the Future of Broadcast Radio

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Grundig S450DLX Field Radio

I read a review of a new AM/FM/SW radio that will soon be on the market.  The person writing the review questioned why “anyone” would want a radio with Shortwave.  Perhaps that is a legitimate question.  For that matter, why would anyone want AM?  Or even a more extreme view, why would anyone want a “radio” at all?  By “radio” I mean a dedicated device to receive an RF signal in the traditional frequency spectrum assigned to the AM/FM/SW broadcast bands.

What technology wants

I have heard this term, “What technology wants”. As if technology has a “mind” or “intention” (Hegel/Geist).  Perhaps people think that they are in charge.  Technology is created in the service of man.  But, the creation (or discovery) of a new technology has many unintended consequences as well as a few surprises waiting.  The surprises are “what technology wants” and these may be unexpected and disruptive.

Can you get your 35mm film developed anymore?  Running low on chemicals for the home film developing lab?  Do you need some more photographic paper?  Did you check the catalogs lately to see what new enlargers or lenses are on the market for your darkroom in the spare bedroom?  At some point, if you talk about any of the above the number of people who know what you are talking about will diminish as time goes on.  Does a teenager know what “dialing” a telephone number means and the origin of the term?  Do you shoot “footage” with your digital video camera?  What is “footage”? (Read related: Kodachrome)

Did Eastman Kodak want their film business disrupted by digital photography?  No.  But it happened.  Technology wanted something that Eastman Kodak could not anticipate.  Eastman Kodak was late to the game and was not a leader when technology first made its intentions clear.  What technology wanted in digital photography was “inevitable” and no power on earth, let alone Eastman Kodak, could stop it. 

Once technology is unleashed who or what sets the path of all the events to follow?  Who is in charge?

What is “Radio”?

Perhaps it will be the same with “radio”.  What technology wants, and what is inevitable and unstoppable, will lead to a challenge and clarification of what “radio” is.  International broadcasters such as the BBC, Deutsche Welle, and others picked up on this opportunity more than a decade ago to clarify the definition of radio and their mission as international broadcasters.  With alternate delivery mechanisms one could finally see in “radio” the distinction between content (programming) and delivery (RF) and how these could be separated.  What opportunities await?  What does technology want?

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Written by frrl

December 28, 2010 at 8:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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