The dawn of a new era

The past decade will perhaps best be remembered for tremendous changes and advancements in technology and its presence in people’s lives.

In 10 years, there has been an incredible shift in the ways people obtain and more importantly view media, especially in music and film.

The necessary element in all of the change that has occurred in the past decade is the rise to prominence of the Internet.

The incredible popularity and adoption of this presence into people’s daily lives is astonishing in contrast to the change that has happened in past decades.

People across the globe are connected more than ever before in 2009 and can more easily interact with others and share information worldwide.

Only the development of radio at the turn of the twentieth century can be compared to the Internet in terms of sheer change in the ways people live their lives.

It was only in the last 10 years that technology has grown to effect real change in human interaction, especially in terms of digital media.

Music

In music, the 2000s presented changes to an entire industry and the sound recordings that had been an important part of people’s lives since the first recorded music appeared in the early 1900s.

While vinyl records, magnetic cassette tapes and digital compact discs were the means of playing back recorded sound for the 20th century, with the 2000s came the acceptance of the mp3.

The first digital media players capable of playing mp3 format audio were launched around 1998.

These initial devices, though portable and significant, were not popular until the launch of Apple’s iPod in April 2001.

The iTunes store, which opened in 2003, provided an alternative to downloading pirated mp3s or converting music from CDs.

Along with the mp3, both streaming audio on the Internet and satellite radio have come into prominence in the past decade.

Subscription-based satellite radio services have started to compete with traditional free broadcast radio, providing more variety with less advertising and better sound quality.

As far as audio quality is concerned, this decade has not faired well in terms of emphasis on how music sounds.

With mp3s and highly compressed digital audio, music has become increasingly about portability and versatility rather than clarity.

There seems to be hope for those who cherish sound quality with the resurrection of the vinyl record album in the past few years.

According to Neilson Soundscan, although overall digital and physical album sales decreased almost 18 per cent between 2007 and 2008, vinyl LP sales went up a record 89 per cent.

Live music has also changed with the new millennium, as the Internet has been affecting both the promotion of artists and events, as well as the tickets consumers buy to attend these events.

Through easier access to information about artists than the print media and information on record and CD sleeves that preceded the Internet – as well as social networking services like MySpace Music and increasingly Facebook and even Twitter – artists are better able to attract fans to shows and promote themselves than ever before.

Ticket sales have become an online domain as well, with greater access to tickets on the Internet as well as online scalping replacing the traditional box office line and the sidewalk.

Movies

Film technology in the 2000s saw substantial changes in the ways people experience movies.

From the year 2000 when VHS tapes still made up a substantial portion of the video rental market, there have been format changes to home video from the rise of the DVD to new high definition technologies like Blu-Ray and the now-defunct HD-DVD.

High definition video has emerged as a new standard in filmmaking, television and even video games, has created a new emphasis on home theatre rather than the old-fashioned movie theatre for viewing films.

There have been incredible advances in special effects, CGI and animation techniques that have allowed films like the Transformers franchise, the realistic motion-capture animated film Beowulf and the Academy Award-winning Wall-E to be produced.

With the development of the Internet, including a shift from dial-up to broadband-speed service and the rise of peer-to-peer sharing, there has been just as much of an impact through Internet movie piracy on the film industry as there has with mp3 piracy on the music industry.

In spring 2009, the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine was leaked to the Internet a month before its theatrical release.

Twentieth Century Fox, the studio that produced the film, estimated that the leaked version of the film had been downloaded roughly 4.5 million times before the film’s actual release date.

Television

Television in a traditional broadcast form declined in the 2000s, but viewership of television through on-demand video and the Internet has brought television viewership to an all-time high according to Neilson Media Research.

Through time-shifting and digital video-recorders, TV viewers can now watch what they want when they want to; something that was not at all possible in the previous decade.

In review

At the close of the 2000s, it is evident that technology has advanced to such a degree in the past 10 years that many people could not imagine living without iPods, high-speed internet or on-demand television.

There have been profound changes in technology as a whole that have impacted the presence these forces have in people’s lives.

They have created a society more centered around technology than ever before.

As even “archaic” media forms like books become part of this trend through e-books and e-book readers like Amazon’s Kindle, it becomes evident that nothing seems to escape the forces of technology.

Memorable moments in technology

2000

First true real-time cel-shading animation introduced.

2001

Apple launches the iPod. In the same year, the BitTorrent technology was created and released.

2002

The Blu-ray disc technology is officially unveiled and Amazon’s Kindle is released.

2003

Social-networking and music sharing site Myspace founded.

2004

Social-networking site Facebook is founded and begins to invade the privacy of millions of unsuspecting people.

2005

Xbox 360 gaming console
released.

2006

Video sharing website YouTube is launched and innovative new console the Wii, from Nintendo is released.

2007

Apple’s first venture into the mobile market, the iPhone, is released to the public.

2008

IBM releases world’s fastest computer named Roadrunner.

2009

The Infinite Book is unveiled, an technology which combines the analog and digital aspects of newspapers.

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