Flowing Into the Future by Chuck Ansbacher

“Talk less, show more,” was the motto at this year’s Streaming Media East conference. Taking place May 15-16 at the New York Hilton, the conference provided a nice balance of both.

In addition to the many exhibitors, such as NewTek, Haivision, Wowza, and roughly 40 others, a device pavilion allowed attendees to get hands on with almost every tablet, phone, smart TV, and set top box (Roku, Slingbox) on the market. They were all internet connected, and of course ready to stream.

For those that came to learn, 20 how-to sessions on encoding, videoplayers, webcasting, etc., and four tracks of panels and discussions satisfied every curious bone in their bodies.

Keynoting the conference was Matt Frost, senior business product manager for Google Chrome. While Frost’s speech largely focused on the promise of HTML5 and Google’s goals for the web, it also served to highlight both the distance that web video has come, and the relatively clunky rules under which it still operates.

“The web video experience we put up with these days really isn’t that good,” opined Frost, blaming the lackluster state of affairs on the painful memories of streaming (remember Real Player?) that we used to put up with.

Frost emphasized that the pace of innovation must increase, but because of the way we all used to experience video—a new cable box every five years, rewinding videos, TV remotes, etc.—progress moves far too incrementally, and not in a fluid fashion consistent with the rest of the web. After all, the web changes on a daily basis; video on the web changes like it is still being provided by a cable company.

While Frost may be frustrated with the pace of innovation, that opinion may have been jolted once he toured the show floor. It’s impossible to remember the days when your television was your only portal to video, when a crew and a studio was your only avenue to broadcast. The world now holds in its pocket what used to be housed in a warehouse. As those devices continue to become more prominent and powerful, streaming can only continue to play a larger role in everyday life.

Chuck Ansbacher is the managing editor of Systems Contractor News and AV Technology.

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