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The old fashioned future

With the festive season fast approaching, one of the best gifts money can buy is an Internet radio. I’ve had one for six months or so now and it sits in the kitchen, merrily blasting out any genre of any music from anywhere in the world that happens to take our fancy. From disco classics to flamenco and everything in between, Internet radio caters for both mainstream and guilty pleasures with the simple turn of a dial.

Image by The Rocketeer under Creative Commons Licence. Some rights reserved.

Image by The Rocketeer http://www.flickr.com/photos/kt/ Some rights reserved under Creative Commons Licence.

Apart from the immense choice of music (explorable by region, genre, popularity, and all the other options you’d expect from Radio 2.0) what’s really impressive is how Internet radio joins the power of the web with the everyday ease/familiarity of an old-school household appliance. The device takes seconds to install; it simply attaches itself to your wifi and the quality is superb. You tune it with a dial just like you’ve been tuning a radio for years. It’s the new wireless wireless.

I suppose the technical demands of radio are easier to overcome than the demands of video. But it is starting to become feasible to watch video over the internet and I don’t just mean short clips on YouTube. The phenomenal success of BBC’s iPlayer proves there is a market for viewing TV-quality content online and on demand.

The trouble with video online is that it’s not yet compelling enough (and by that ultimately I guess I mean easy enough) to consume purely online. OK, you might watch a few shows on your computer or portable device but I bet you’ve still got a TV in the living room and probably have a DVD player, etc etc. Early adopters have home media centres, but imagine a video version of an Internet radio which integrates the web with a traditional mainstream appliance.

So, while we’re waiting for video, why not live the future in a rather old fashioned way and get the best of both worlds with an Internet radio? You can even pull an RSS feed onto the front display so you’ll always be up to date with your favourite blog.

People wonder what web 3.0 will be. I reckon it’s when the Internet becomes so integrated into everyday life that we don’t even notice. Don’t go mad.

Stealing the show

We often talk about how to grab an audience’s attention. The drummer in this clip certainly manages that– you might say for all the wrong reasons.

More disco grooves

Perfect video for mastering some moves in time for the weekend. Might need to bone up on the Finnish first, though.

Disco grooves

My wide-collared jacket and disco shoes came out of retirement last week to celebrate 30 years of Saturday Night Fever. The BBC invited various artists to perform tunes from the film’s legendary soundtrack as part of their Electric Proms season – Robin Gibb himself even made an appearance singing ‘More Than a Woman’.

The likes of Sharleen Spiteri, Gabriella Climi and Sam Sparro took to the stage with their versions of classic Bee Gees tracks from the movie. It was pretty cool although inevitably some of the stars were better than others. It must be tricky performing these kind of covers because the originals are such classics there’s a big risk you’ll be accused of belting out nothing but dodgy karaoke.

(BTW the one I enjoyed the most was Disco Inferno)

I think this idea of ‘making something your own’ works in exactly the same way online. Internet users are beyond the stage of accepting what they’re given as gospel with no alternatives – they’ve got television for that, a linear means of pumping out content which is (for the most part) passively consumed. I worked in TV for a few years and the majority of what we did was based on decisions made in London and then beamed around the world with (in those days) next to no input from the audience. The Internet doesn’t work like that. Instead, users discover content which they may (or may not) consume and which they may (or may not) then repurpose as they see fit. I understand why brands may be nervous about this but at the same time it’s potentially a fantastic opportunity to foster engagement.

So what do the Bee Gees and “mashups” have in common? If I only wanted to listen to the music I’d have put on my Saturday Night Fever soundtrack CD. The Electric Proms show was about seeing how the artists took inspiration from the original to create something new. It’s got me talking/blogging about Saturday Night Fever in a new way and enthusing about the brand.

Surely if you like a brand which subsequently gives you content to play with you’ll do your best to reversion the content (favourably) and tell your friends about it. Now that has to be an opportunity.