Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Digital Content Consumption - What is Next?

Digital content consumption, today

It would be an understatement to say that digital content consumption is creating a headache for the traditional providers. The latest public display was billed as Media Brawl at Web 2.0.

Digital content consumption, tomorrow

What is right around the corner is a new generation of techniques and solutions. Here are some of the areas that PARC is working on.

* Non-traditional directed consumption through user generated content such as tags
* Predictive models through sentiment analysis and machine learning
* Distributed content and security management
* Recommendation systems built on reality mining in mobile devices

Digital content consumption, the day after tomorrow

One of the areas that there does not seem to get a lot of attention is how are users actually consuming content. Most the discussions have an implicit assumption of a bygone day when a person would actually devote a chunk of time to an activity, i.e. read a news article, in front of a decent size screen. With smart phone projected to overtake laptop as the most ubiquitous mobile device, the inevitable question in a couple of years is when I am on the go with a smart phone, when and how do I want to consume content?

One of the more interesting insight that PARC has worked on already is the notion of "microwaiting." The simple scenario, albeit a bit scary, is to think of stopping your car at a red light in your morning commute. You know the wait is about 60 seconds. And, guess what, we have found that this is an example where people are very receptive to consume content. Thus the term "microwaiting".

One of the things that people don't often know about is how social science plays a key role at PARC. This is an example where this unique combination of technical and social insight leads to really interesting design and business implications.

p.s. Let me know if you want to learn more about "microwaiting". We have published a CHI paper on this topic.


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