Douglas Crockford

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The Digital Transition [2004 - 2005]

The period after the Dot.com Bubble and 911 was a dark time for software startups. I had companies that ran out of cash in 2000 and 2001, so I retired from software for a few years until things thawed out. Eventually, I started a newsletter that tracked The Digital Transition, in which HDTV replaced analog television and over the air broadcasting became obsolete. It was a fascinating process, partly technological, partly political, with an abundance of good faith and bad faith activity. This was interesting to me because I majored in broadcasting. In 1971 I knew that the future of television was going to be computers. It was just going to take a while.

I read extensively and attended many conferences and meetings, interviewing the players, looking past the public positions, trying to predict where it was all going. Looking back, it is interesting to see how many of the URLs in my reports are broken now. That is partly due to the flimsiness of the WWW, and it is partly due to the dangers present in a highly volatile market.

I think most of the positions I took at the time turned out to be right. The biggest thing I missed was the importance of streaming. Fifteen years ago, no one in industry talked about streaming. The networks were simply too slow. The closest things back then were On Demand and Near On Demand, which are as different from streaming as VCRs were from DVRs.

Each day I will link to another report here. I start with a report that I had written a decade earlier.