Beginning of the end for screens

Glazed eyes, cross legged, staring at a screen, whilst images flicker across pupils.

Clunky multi press , swipe and tap motions with one hand as I pull up the calculator – type , correct, type, undo.

Faux wooden bookshelves and dials, containing a mock toolkit which crudely beeps and swooshes, as if I’m an inhabitant of a Jeff Koon artwork.

Heads of digital departments in large electronic corps give keynotes at CES in Vegas declaring ‘soon you’ll have a screen in your smart fridge where you can get the latest weather report’.

It all seems so dated, so Microserfs, so CD-Rom – not the world of Internet of Things, the Quantified Self or wearable tech.

With Amazon Fresh’s announcement of a screen-free Dash device  , that works only via scanning or speaking, we see the beginning of the end for practical screen based services. As much as the mouse feels like a superfluous disconnection in personal computing, now that we have touch screens – so the screen will seem naively disjointed in achieving our computer assisted practical tasks.

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Where next for commercial radio?

Radio player images

The latest Rajar figures , Absolute Radio’s sell off and increasing consolidation have signalled a warning to commercial radio in the UK in 2013.

A few things have shaken the radio landscape in the last 8 or so years. Radio can no longer rely on exclusive access to playlists, a limited choice of in-car entertainment, live travel info and apathy towards moving the dial. There’s more choice of listening from non-linear sources and more utility via digital devices. Research consistently tells us that these choices are where younger people turn to instead of radio. Add to this the 4g spectrum, bringing with it the disruptive impact of the broadband web to cars and transit, then there’s a perfect storm to unsettle radio.

The BBC have made enormous efforts to move from a linear led offering, to on-demand, multiplatform audio brands. The commercial sector however has been much slower to move; partly due to costs and partly due to prioritising where advertisers see the greatest value. Now that the advertisers are required to gain more measurable and targeted results, a significant surge in online advertising has moved money away from previously trusted print and radio. The cost of not doing, is now outweighing the cost of doing effective digital offerings for radio broadcasters.

Rather than doom and gloom-monger, what are some possible ways in which commercial radio can still prosper?

1 – Work with advertisers to create more entertaining and effective marketing – to avoid switching off listeners.

Annoying adverts are the biggest reason why people switch to BBC stations. Having to carry ads is the biggest compliant from commercial broadcasters who struggle against the BBC stations. So why not make radio adverts better, even enjoyable? Most are clumsy, grating and on too loud. TV adverts can be as interesting as the programmes, with great film-makers showcasing their talents on adverts first. Why isn’t this the case for radio? Continue reading

Albums I loved in 2012

My relationship with music was different and strange in 2012. Being out of the BBC’s Audio & Music department for the first time in five years and out of London for the first time since 1995, have distanced me from many of the trends that break sooner in the capital and within the music industry echo chamber. As I didn’t go to any festivals nor work at them and haven’t been to many gigs (think its just been ten), the new music I’ve loved had to work in headphone mode rather than in the speakers. New music discovery meanwhile required more directed searching via blogs, friend recommendations and podcasts.

Will there be another underground youth movement?

With another year passing without a significant youth musical movement emerging, I start to wonder whether we’ll ever have another rave or punk explosion. The disparate nature of music consumption combined with instant social communication probably prevents large underground movements ever existing in the same way again.

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