Current TV has been making headlines for over two years now. The hybrid television station/social news site put a twist on user generated media. Current TV allows users to contribute to the site and participate with the TV station. User generated media makes its way into traditional media everyday. You can't watch a day of news without seeing the latest controversial Youtube video. Most news networks even solicit personal video opinions.

What makes Current different is that it takes all the things Youtube does well, while also having its own mass media outlet. Just imagine what would happen if Youtube had its own cable TV station. In a nutshell that's what Current TV is.

Current TV just signed a  deal with Dish Network. They are available on Comcast, Time Warner, and DirectTV as well. The Current station has an international reach of 51 million. They also claim to be the first network about, for, and with 18-34 content specifically. Did I mention that Al Gore is the Chairman.

Current TV's mixes media in a different way. Obviously traditional TV stations have a online presence, but current was created with new media in mind. I would predict a Youtube Channel within the next five years, but television has already started to be transmitted over the internet, so I won't. The lines are going to continue to blur and you can expect to see set top boxes like Apple TV built into a television set. This will give users the option of watching network TV, Cable, and online channels in the same screen with similar resolution. Current TV is simply a transition station. The barriers to entry for programming were significantly lowered with better equipment and now the barriers for a complete TV stations is coming down as well.

 
 

It appears that election polls, which are based on strong statistical data are becoming less trustworthy. We are in an election year and information is critical. There have been a few surprises so far, not just in the primary election results. Mainstream news media has been using bloggers as experts. That means two things. Experts are blogging and bloggers are becoming experts. Not all bloggers of course. But, you can't deny that digital information on demand is changing the political landscape of America.

Part of the problem is that many polling companies are using terrestrial phone lines to gather data. Many young people don't have land lines anymore and mobile phones are usually not available for solicitation. Land line poll data can be skewed by an older demographic. It's like reaching 25 year olds through newspapers.

While the statistical methods have not changed, the way information is changing. Some information is hiding from traditional sources. Social media and other pull methods of receiving messages are changing the way people learn about the candidates. In the same way that TV rating systems have had to adapt (or at least tried too), political analyst  are starting to change their ways. Most candidates are not even using SEO effectively. Expect changes to happen immediately, like in weeks. Look for companies like Google and Yahoo to $hare valuable information with campaign groups in an effort to get the most up to date information. There will also be an online index developed for measuring political performance.

 
 

Apple is teaming up with 20th Century Fox to deliver movies over iTunes. The stage is set for broadband rentals for the masses. Blockbuster made headlines with Jackass 2.5 in an effort to promote their broadband entertainment. Netflix is already doing the same. Tivo has a similar feature. The difference between Apple and these other companies (except Tivo) is the hardware. Apple introduced Apple TV alongside the iPhone. People aren’t buzzing about Apple TV because they don’t really get it. The infrastructure is in place, but the concept is still not clear to consumers.

Who wants to buy a thing that connects your TV to the internet for movies? As long as people have to think about getting a new "thing" to watch broadband entertainment the concept will grow at slug speeds. Device integration will speed up the process. Smart companies will begin to build the streaming device into televisions. They will also incorporate the capability into DVD players/burners, DVR, and HD conversion boxes. All televisions will have to accept HD signal. A smart device manufacture will realize that HD converter/HD DVD players with Wi-Fi access will make it easier to receive and purchase broadband entertainment. People will embrace broadband entertainment when they don't have to think about it. An HDTV with built in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and DVR will be ready for the 2008 holiday shopping season.

 
 

What if search engines were more than just tools? Google is best known for their search engine. Their simple goal to organize information has lead them into all kinds of markets. They are one of the most innovative companies on the planet. But, they have been neglecting their search engine. Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia has been funding a new type of search engine.  A search engine that doesn't share information with advertisers. This new search engine will have some social elements and allow users to rate searches.  Google does own the concept simple fast searches, but people want more than that. They want richer searches. Not everyone wants to search differently, but the time is right for search engine innovation.

Ask.com has been trying to differentiate their algorithm and Yahoo still offers a rich portal page. I believe the true innovation will come when we move beyond the simple search. Before the end of the decade we will have a powerful visual search engine. Johnathan Harris, The creator of wefeelfine.org, teamed up with Daylife to create the Universe. Daylife takes headlines and links them to multiple global perspectives. The Universe is a visual interface that illustrates the universe of a particular subject in the form of stars and shapes. As broadband speeds pick up, so will the power of visual and even audio browsing. Searching isn't just about information. Context is important too. You can add any word in front of search to get an idea of how things are changing. Social search, responsible search, local search, and visual search are just some examples. Try optimizing that.  We are moving beyond text. Slowly but surely.


 
 

There's a new feature coming to Google Maps Mobile that might interest marketers. Google is adding the "My Location" feature to their mobile maps application. This feature doesn't require GPS tracking to know where you are. It uses cell phone towers to determine your location, thus eliminating the need to type in your address. You can then search for nearby businesses and map your way there.

What I really like about this technology is that it takes Google's context based ad system into the streets in a sense. It expands on the concept of search. Searching for a repair shop or any other service happens on computer as much as it does on the road. The "My Location" feature for mobile maps allows for more relevant mobile messaging. That's good for advertisers, but better for people simply looking for something nearby. Mobile advertising is growing slowly, but little advancements like this have big implications. Expect companies like Coke and Pepsi to use this technology to guide you to the nearest vending machine or retailer.  Proximity based mobile ads will go main stream as more phones become open source in the next few years.

 
 

I read on Mashable that Myspace is considering a redesign. We've all been to the cluttered a Myspace page full of music and all kinds of colorful expressions. It's not always pleasant. The author of the article suggests that Myspace needs more than a face lift. He believes that Myspace should follow Facebook's lead and open itself up to a higher level of open source development. That's a start. I believe that Facebook's open source is as much of a problem as it is a solution. Facebook pages with dozens of applications feel like the cluttered Myspace pages. They are also slow to load. Facebook could use a better level of moderation to keep pages from becoming cluttered with corny applications that lose their novelty after a week.  Perhaps a voting device which allows users to vote in upcoming applications that are "questionable".

User centered design is a good start, but users are changing the way they consume digital content in general. People who once read dozens of blogs are finding it easier to subscribe to RSS feeds and get all the information they need from iGoogle or Netvibes. People are opting for aggregation and condensed versions of the stuff they like in order to get more stuff. Social networks are no different. Many people are on more than one social network just like they read more than one blog. Once developers begin creating app versions of Myspace, Facebook, and other social sites for use on iGoogle, there will be less reason to suffer through all the clutter. The user will be in control once again thanks to open source. Advertisers will have to find alternative ways to get into your face. This is happening faster than you think. Facebook and Myspace will become open source applications on a larger all-in-one virtual desktop aggregator that combines RSS, Social media and other online resources. We're less than a year away from this. It will take a few more years to become the norm, maybe it's time to start redesigning advertising revenue models on social networks and social network applications.

 
 

On October 1st, Sprint raised the SMS text message rate to 20 cents per 160 character message. Sprint customers complained but nothing is going to change, yet. Texting has become a part of our lives and wireless carriers know that. In reality, when we send a text message, we are only sending a small amount of data. If we put a value on that data, SMS is costing us somewhere between $1,000-2000 dollars per Megabyte. That should raise some red flags in the near future. A few companies are finding ways to get around the SMS standard by routing messages through e-mail over the internet, which costs less. Expect to see free SMS texting sponsored by light advertising in the very near future. Sprint can't charge this amount for too long. Phones are going open source. SMS texting at ridiculously high prices  will be a thing of the past in about three years.

 
 

The Writers Guild of America understands that technology has created a new media landscape. The writers want royalties for content distributed over the internet. The production companies disagree. Many see streaming media as the future of entertainment distribution. I agree in part. Writers should get paid for their work, but the internet does not respond well to high billings for content. People online expect low prices if any for their digital media. Producers must find new revenue streams in order to  keep making huge profits.

Remember Mp3's. The music industry decided to fight the internet until they figured out a way to make money. They discovered that the internet could be used for distribution in addition to marketing. The entertainment industry needs to come up with a way to cut distribution and marketing costs using the internet. Once that happens, they will be able to pay writers and make a profit. As long as producers keep fighting technology they will keep losing. Streaming entertainment is already here, it's time to start acting like it.

 
 

What would it take to build a better mobile phone? That's the question that the Open Handset Alliance asked. The alliance is comprised of retailers, manufacturers and developers. All with the common goal of making mobile devices open source. The new open source platform is called Android.

When you think of mobile phones these days, the last thing you think of is the actual phone. Voice service has become a commodity. Carriers are looking at data, music and other features to make the real money. I see phones getting better with open source, but I also see a new generation of devices being created. I see wireless devices that do everything but make calls becoming popular. I also predict a new industry connecting these products products. The new industry will function like a hybrid cable and data connection carrier.


 
 

"Media buyers' simmering resentment toward the broadcast networks for continuing to sell scatter inventory instead of offering those slots as make goods for the much lower than anticipated prime-time ratings yielded by the new C3 metric has come to a boil. Several buyers said the networks have sold so much fourth-quarter ad inventory that many retailers who need make goods now, as the holiday season approaches, can't be accommodated. The buying execs also said that although many retailers need pod exclusivity, most pods are already filled with retail ads through the end of the fourth quarter. "If an advertiser can't get the gross rating points for their commercials when they need them, what is the point of running the ads at all?" said one media buyer who did not want to speak for attribution."  Adage.com

The current problems with media buying will be corrected once an overhaul of the entire system is considered.