All living beings communicate in some form and the living beings that are currently on top of the ladder – we, the humans – have the most advanced native form of communication: the word. Not content with it they have invented and used a range of technologies that have made communication between ever more effective:
- Directly by them: drawing, painting, sculpture, playing music, writing
- Through machines: printing, photography and cinematography
- Through immaterial means: wired and wireless communication of text, audio and video
- By recording: audio and video.
It has taken millennia to get the first and a few centuries to get the last three. Starting just a quarter of century ago, however, the ability of humans to communicate has been greatly impacted by the combination of 3 digital technologies that have brought about the Digital Media Revolution:
- Media – handling all information sources via the common “bit” unit;
- Network – delivering information bits everywhere;
- Device – processing information bits inexpensively.
The Digital Media Revolution shows no sign of abating and it is likely that we will continue riding the media bits for quite some time. Therefore I have decided to write these pages bound by the title “Riding The Media Bits” because most Digital Media Technologies have been – and more continue to be – spawned by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).
My goal is to provide the knowledge necessary to understand the nature of media, how digital media came about and how they are evolving so that people can take part in the decisions of where the Digital Media Revolution is taking us to, or – as a minimum – understand the reasons for the decisions made by others.
Technologies are seen from the perspective of the author’s experience – Media, but I have also complemented this with Device and Network aspects when I found it appropriate to complement the picture.
The target reader of these pages is non-technical. The matters handled, however, typically involve sophisticated technologies and some knowledge of them will be required, if understanding is not to come out of thin air. I dare say, though, that technical readers can also benefit from being exposed to the breadth of issues treated in these pages.
In order not to scare away the readers of this first page, I guarantee that I have made all efforts to reduce the technical requirements to the minimum necessary. Non-technical readers are therefore advised to exercise a minimum of perseverance (often not very much), when they see themselves confronted with technical descriptions, if they want to reap the results promised. As a last resort, they may skip the chapter that is challenging them beyond their desire to understand.
There is one last thing I would like to state before taking the reader with me for a 30+ year ride on the media bits. You will find that personal pronouns are rigorously kept in masculine form. I know this is politically incorrect, but I do think that if a language forces people to use personal pronouns in a sentence, like English does, there should be one of two choices: either one can change the language and make the use of pronouns optional, as in Italian or Japanese, or the people who expect to see a constant use of “he or she”, “him or her”, “his or hers” etc., become less prudish. As, neither of these options is within my reach, I will do as I said. After all I would rather look like a male chauvinist and use masculine pronouns, than be a male chauvinist but use politically correct expressions.
The only promise I can make is that I will use all personal pronouns in feminine form on the next occasion (if there will ever be one :-).
This page would not be complete if I did not acknowledge my English mentor – Philip Merrill. Of his own initiative he has reviewed many of the original pages, providing countless invaluable suggestions. If the pages are more understandable – and readable – the credit goes to him. If they are not the discredit only goes to me.