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Spicy Ideas: A Day in the Life of a Media Junkie

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We cannot escape. We cannot look away. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by screens pumping out video and speakers piping in audio. Good or bad, it is a way of life for most of the world—even more so for those of us who are hyper-connected. But how, exactly, are we interacting with new media, and how many different methods are we using to consume media? I decided to keep a schedule of the media that I interact with on a daily basis to see if there were any surprises. Fortunately for you, I distilled several days of media interaction into one for this column. Continue at your own risk.

6:45 a.m.—The alarm on my bedside table tunes into the local NPR station, and I wake up with the day’s news flooding my ears. The anchors mention that I can hear a podcast of the news, almost all of NPR’s shows, and music at www.npr.org/podcast. As such, the day begins with audio media that I can access in multiple formats—listen live, listen online, or download a podcast and listen whenever and wherever I want. I am a fan of the All Songs Considered podcast, which I can download through iTunes, Zune, or as a direct download in MP3 or MP4 format. I also am exposed to my first advertisement/sponsorship, which is for Acura.com. I am not even fully awake, and I already have more options than I have time to consume.

7:03 a.m.—My wife flips on the TV in the bedroom to The Early Show on CBS. The program is showcasing user-generated videos from YouTube and also has a cooking segment with Bobby Flay. The hosts let me know that I can access all of the show’s videos at www.cbsnews.com. I bite and pull up the website, finding the cooking segment online. I have four options with the video: embed it in my blog, share it via email, copy the link, or Digg the video. I have linked to the Bobby Flay Derby Days video at http://is.gd/5tL. (I am using is.gd to shorten those crazy-long video links.) So, I now have watched the segment once on the TV, viewed it once on my Mac mini with a 19" flat-panel monitor, and given it to all of you via the URL. I am still a bit sleepy, but I have already watched, shared, and interacted with multiple media formats.

7:31 a.m.—The kids are up and getting ready. I am now somewhat coherent, so it’s time to check my email to see if anything is on fire. Bad move. One of the clients I am working with has some tweaks for the latest promo video we have uploaded. The .mov video had been uploaded to blip.tv in widescreen format and embedded into a blog. I watch the video (http://blip.tv/file/719690) on my 19" flat- panel monitor and notice some compression issues, so I send an email to the video editor and request another format output. Now fully awake, I have consumed video as part of my job.

8:03 a.m.—At the breakfast table with the family, I glance over the newspaper. (I may be in new media, but I am addicted to crossword puzzles.) In our small town of 60,000 people in Northeast Tennessee, the local police department has begun using YouTube videos to capture criminals and has released a cheesy 5-minute video with the COPS theme song blaring in the background and a current Dirty Dozen most-wanted list of criminals in the region. Of course, I have to see this. I flip open my MacBook and watch the video (http://is.gd/5tK) on my 13.1" screen. Looks like they caught 10 out of 12. I have not had coffee yet, but I have learned that local law enforcement is using videos on YouTube as a crime-fighting tool.

8:37 a.m.—I am taking my 4-year-old daughter to school. She loves to listen to music on the way and has very strong opinions about the kind of songs we will hear in the car. One of her favorite songs is a happy, Japanese, techno theme song from the obscure PlayStation 2 video game Katamari Damacy. We had played the game together, and she loved the music. However, you cannot buy the soundtrack album for this game anywhere—it does not exist. So I searched and found a website (that I will not link to) that offers MP3 downloads of songs from obscure Japanese video games. As such, my daughter is bouncing around the car to a track playing from my iPod through my sound system. I am still amazed that I can find almost any type of media and access it whenever I want.

9:05 a.m.—My iPhone usually has rung several times by now, and today is no exception. My ringtone is homemade. I took the old-school rap song "Rapper’s Delight," put it into GarageBand, selected part of the song, and instantly turned it into a ringtone. The day has begun now, and the Sugarhill Gang has already alerted me several times that I have a phone call. I am using a 1979 hit rap song as an audio communication alert.

10:30 a.m.—Firmly seated at my desk, I receive a presentation video via Twitter from a friend. His startup is streaming its elevator pitch live using Microsoft Silverlight. I watch in real time on my MacBook as he delivers his presentation from halfway around the world. During my coffee break, video makes the world flat.

12:11 p.m.—I am having lunch with a musician friend. He mentions a percussion instrument called a hang drum and proceeds to tell me how cool it sounds. I use my iPhone to search YouTube and find a slew of videos about the instrument (http://is.gd/5tP). At the restaurant, the two of us watch the videos and ultimately find a website for a company that manufactures the drums. I am now on the waiting list. While we ate lunch, YouTube made a sale.

1:37 p.m.—I am back from lunch and have received a phone call from the manager at the local Dick’s Sporting Goods store. He says the store will not refund my money on a pair of shoes I purchased that fell apart the first time I wore them. I record a video on Seesmic (http://is.gd/52V) using my built-in MacBook camera and send it to a customer service representative via the company’s website. The manager then asks me to come in and get my refund. Using a video, I managed to change a large corporation’s return policy and get customer satisfaction.

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