On Jarvis' Distributed World

I thought BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis was going to do the "every page is the homepage" spiel – something that's been around for years. Instead he wrote about how the concept of the website as a destination is essentially over – that it's now about distributed content, in any number of feeds and combinations among different media. Perhaps it all appears on one page, assembled by the publisher/provider OR the user.

Seems like Jeff's talking about what could be a next generation of NetVibes or PageFlakes. Or perhaps a publisher-controlled version, such as ItsMyNews, which comes pre-loaded with whatever content strain the publisher wants, and then allows user control (and whose creators claim was around before NetVibes).

There's bound to be a battle here, though, among publisher/providers' desire to control and the perfect universe where we can assemble all we want from anywhere, at any time. I'm not calling for regulation – far from it – but there are not going to be true feed standards for awhile, if ever. Yes, .xml is easy and can be used universally, but the different flavors of it, even of RSS, are not adopted by all. In other words, some portion of what you want won't be available to assemble on your perfect page. Just as you can't get every feature on any single cell phone or cellular network, or every show or channel on any cable TV or satellite service.

So, I predict we're back at a cable TV model, albeit on steroids. Instead of getting the channels you want – in this case the content you want, which is a glorious salad of of video, audio, text, scrolls, maps, visuals, whatever – you get the content that's available for whatever aggregation tool you're using. And, inevitably, those whose desired consumption isn't part of the fatter or taller parts of the long tail will tend to get left out – as those who have particular interests now get left out of any given cable service (or aggregator, for that matter). Yes, you can cobble together all your podcasts and audio feeds, and get a scraper and and and – but who has the time, let alone the acumen, for that?

Jarvis said he was blowing our minds with these descriptions of the ultimate future – and asked how long it would be to come. Here's a further mind-blow, when the device we use is 1. a flexible piece of paper-like substance, that you can fold and put in your pocket and gets wireless reception from anywhere and you can type on, etc etc. 2. a projection from a pen like the photos of the supposed prototype that's made the rounds. A few pens in your pocket, one projects a keyboard, another a "screen" on a wall, and voila. 3. eyeglasses and ear plugs and gloves, so you're in a virtual environment even as you move through the real world 4. a biochip implant that obviates the need for any external device or screen, let alone the need to learn any computer commands. The computer learns you.

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