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Web Extra: Conference Sheds Light on Future of Information-Based Economy









 

Conference Sheds Light on Future of
Information-Based Economy

Everette Davis, Ph.D., introduces the first panel at “Information and the Information Economy.”
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

By Patrick Verel

To get a sense of what television-watching will look like in 10 years, one need search no further than YouTube.com, which recently claimed to have 83.4 million videos for viewing.

This was one of the revelations to come from “The Changing Economics of Information Industries,” the first of five panels at “Information and the Information Economy,” a conference held in the Lowenstein Center on Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus.

The conference, which was co-sponsored by Fordham’s Donald McGannon Communication Research Center along with Michigan State University’s Intellectual Property and Communication Law Program and Quello Center for Telecommunications Management and Law, was held for two days beginning on May 2.

“Much of what has been written about the shape of communications policy is devoid of economic data,” said Everette Davis, Ph.D., Larkin Distinguished Professor of Communications and Media Management in Fordham’s Graduate School of Business Administration.

“Many media critics and consumers make arguments on the basis of moral imperatives, not empirical data,” he said while introducing the day’s first panel. “Today we have an opportunity to perhaps fill in that gap, to expand on what has largely been unsaid in many quarters and to take what is a conversation that is largely known only to the policy community and extend it.”

During the panel, Nicholas Economides, Ph.D., professor of economics at the Stern School of Business at New York University, put forth arguments for maintaining Net neutrality, a concept that many Internet carriers are pushing to eliminate.

Eli Noam, Ph.D., professor of finance and economics at the Columbia University School of Business, predicted that just as black-and-white televisions gave way to color and have since been replaced by high-definition sets, so can we expect IMAX and 3-D technology to become available to the general public eventually.

Steve Wildman, James H. Quello Chair of Telecommunication Studies at Michigan State University, predicted that thousands of channels soon will give way to as few as two of them, because online storage space is cheaper than creating new channels.

Wildman said he expects that networks will make older shows and shows that had devoted but small audiences available on demand. This possibly will create a tougher environment for new programs, similar to the one that exists in the music industry.

“Today, a lot of people in their late teens and early 20s are listening to the more psychedelic hard rock music from the 60s and 70s. That’s partly because it’s downloaded through a variety of free sites on the Internet, illegally of course,” he said. “But it’s become quite a trend, and it competes head-to-head with the new stuff coming out. I think we can expect to see that as we move forward into a server-based video structure.”

The most intriguing prediction came from Noam, who described the progression of entertainment technology. He invoked Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors that can be inexpensively placed on an integrated circuit is increasing exponentially, doubling approximately every two years.

Just as DVD players that were prohibitively expensive 10 years ago are now ubiquitous, programming that allows a person to feel like they’re in the middle of a movie or sporting event soon will become de rigueur.

“My calculations say that in about 25 years … the viewer will actually be there—better than reality, better than real life,” he said.


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