Have you ever seen the short film EPIC 2015? It was originally published in the fall of 2004 as EPIC 2014 and updated last year. It’s only about 8 minutes long and definitely worth watching. It is told from the perspective of the year 2015, looking back to 2004 and reviewing the series of events that occured during that time interval. It culminates in the formation of an entity known as GoogleZon (google + amazon merge) operating the google grid, and the NY Times decides to go offline and become a print only newsletter. Some very interesting sites have already come into being since this film first appeared that definitely fit into the landscape described by the creators. The film describes online news sites where the readers are editors, and social networking technology tailors the news delivery, to the individual reader and their interests. To get a look at what this is like check out digg.com and newsvine.com. Both of these sites have come into being since EPIC was published. As for the google grid, Google is already offering gmail with vast amounts of storage, and there are hacks that use the gmail interface to provide large quantities of free online storage for any kind of file. With some recent concerns about Amazon’s profitability, a google takeover in the not to distant future may actually be a real possibility. Another site that already exists and that could fit into the media landscape described by epic is Ourmedia.org where anyone can upload and store any and all media files for free forever.
In an ideal world a lot of the stuff that is actually happening along with some of the things that EPIC describes might not be a bad thing. Ubiquitous access (through universal wi-fi) to all your data, could be very useful. However, given the actions our increasingly big brother-esque republican government, including open-ended requests for search records from google, yahoo and microsoft, and warrentless spying on Americans, I am becoming more and more dubious about storing everything online under the control of someone else. I am not a conspiracy theorist, I don’t believe in alien abductions and I don’t think any omniscient being exists. But I do see increasing signs that a wealthy corporate elite rapidly trying to grab control of everything important. I will probably continue to use free services like gmail and gdrive and digg to provide remote backup of a lot of non-private stuff that I nonetheless don’t want to lose track of. I will use sites like ourmedia to publish media files that I want to make available to people without having to incur huge bandwidth expenses. But I will also maintain my own personal private servers with encrypted connections so that I can have the ubiquitous access that I find so useful.
There is definitely a tremendous amount of potential in the personal media revolution that is happening today. I will do everything I can to promote it. But I think that people need to maintain personal control over at least some of their data. If we don’t, then we may find that we will lose it all at some point.
update: I forgot to mention, that although I have been following the development of internet services along the lines described by EPIC 2015 for over a year, this particular post was prompted by reading this item on techcrunch this morning.