Local wildlife. It’s nice to know that one doesn’t always need to travel halfway around the world to make compelling images—occasionally willing subjects show up right in the back yard.
The new world. Transformations within societies often come in waves, the actual results of which are only visible with clarity when looking back on them after the fact. Living through transformations is often confusing, costly, and challenging to cherished precepts and personal lifestyles. We’re moving through such an event now in the way we handle information—how it’s transmitted, received, perceived, generated, and consumed.
One of the difficulties is that these changes occur from so many fronts at once it’s very hard to understand the specific impacts or predict the eventual results. Take the concept of “convergence,” which in this narrow niche has usually referred to the lessening distinctions between still images (photos) and motion images (motion picture or video) and how packages of images, text, and sound are presented or delivered. The most obvious example is the rapid and widely embraced placement of HD video capture in camera bodies that previously were designed to capture only still images. Then a few years ago, putting cameras in cell phones became popular, and that morphed (with the big help of the Apple iPhone) into cellular communication devices with all kinds of multifunction data/voice tools that meet more customer consumption needs than we ever knew existed. The iPad has twisted that concept even more…and so it goes.
Now Panasonic, a major electronics manufacturer for decades and of recent years a heavy hitter in the consumer digital camera world, is merging imaging and cell phone from the camera direction with the Lumix Phone (Japanese market only for now). It will be interesting to see how many other features are integrated into this device other than relatively high quality capture ability.
Of course to some degree this begs the question of whether any one device designed to do many things can do them all well enough to satisfy, or whether eventually one finds it better to own and use several purpose-built devices that are optimized for a specific use and do so really well. We’ve been down that road before and only time will tell how this will sort out.
Another part of the puzzle is the distinction between consumption and production. This is part of what’s tied up in the concerns within certain professional ranks regarding the direction of the Apple company. (By the way, this is not an anti-Apple rant, but thoughtful commentary about delivery of information.) While Apple’s business model has concentrated in the last several years on building and selling mobile devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad,) and content delivery systems (iTunes, iBooks, Apple TV) that focus intensely on consumption (and in this case with a very tightly controlled environment that funnels as much revenue as possible though Apple’s coffers), there has been a growing sentiment that the creation side of the equation has been minimized in favor of feeding the consumption model. Updates to both laptop and desktop Apple computers has been glacially slow of late and tend to be minimal at best, often shirking trends within the rest of the market as to improved speed, capacity, connectivity, and throughput. Another glaring example is the rumored delay in release of a much-anticipated new version of Final Cut Studio (a big player in professional video and multi-media creative markets), due in part (it is alleged) to reassignment of many of its engineering resource to mobile operating systems which focus on delivery, not creation. But now Apple has announced a “Back to the Mac” event for October 20th unleashing a slew of speculation on what this might mean. Let’s all hope it include a bit more emphasis on serious tools for creatives.
Hard drives. While SSDs (solid state drives) continue to improve, prices just aren’t falling fast enough to generate much enthusiasm. New units that fit a PCI-Express slot on your desktop motherboard (like OCZ’s RevoDrive) continue to push the envelope, but these devices are clearly not mainstream yet—good old hard drives still fulfill the storage needs for most of us. And they’re getting bigger and better too. Hitachi has just announced a new 2.5″ laptop drive with a 750GB capacity and 7,200rpm spindle speed. It’s only 9.5mm think and will fit in just about any laptop. Pair this with a USB 3.0 enclosure and it would make a dandy portable backup unit too. Also from Hitachi is a 2.5″ 10,000rpm drive in capacities up to 600GB. Sounds like it may give the famed Western Digital VelociRaptor some real competition.