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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.

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