reflections in response to Emerging Technology course EDUC 7108

Posts tagged ‘Dr. David Thornburg’

Module Five: Red Queens, Increasing Returns and the War on DVD/Video on Demand

In order to obtain one of the films based on the books by Philip K. Dick in module 4, I began first with the resources I have immediate access to.  I reviewed the “guide” listings of movies scheduled for broadcast on cable television, which produced two of the Dick films.  After reading each review, I chose Minority Report; set it to record digitally via TIVO and watched it the following day after it was recorded for me.

There was a time when the only option to seeing a movie was to rent one from a video store or purchase it.   Technological advancements now allow the very same film to be streamed or downloaded immediately to one’s television or personal computer. This emergence in technology has also led to competition between DVD sales and Video on Demand.  The current competition between Video on Demand and DVDs is an example of increasing returns (Laureate Education, 2009). Since high speed internet is now more affordable, with larger screen size displays, and with superior image and graphics quality than was available in the past, more people use online resources than ever before, causing the video rental business to slowly become obsolete.  This is easily represented in the competition between Netflix and Blockbuster.

Netflix began in 1997, moving to subscription services in 1999, and now with customer subscriptions including both rented movies delivered in the mail, as well as streamed movies through TIVO, Wii, Xbox 360, Apple’s iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices as well as select brand-name televisions.  While Netflix was concentrating on video on demand business, Blockbuster, as its primary competitor, did not expand to the video on demand market soon enough, which ultimately led to their demise as they filed for bankruptcy in 2010.  As the transition was made to digital format in the United States in June of 2009, many Americans have flocked to stores to purchase updated televisions, many of which are fully equipped with internet connection, and ready for streaming with automatic access to streamed or downloaded content, for example, my Samsung Blu-Ray player came equipped with recommended internet TV applications:  Pandora internet radio, VUDU, Netflix, and Blockbuster, with capabilities to access Twitter, Google maps, You Tube videos and more.  The TIVO offerings on my television include Blockbuster, Amazon Video on Demand, Netflix, You Tube, Rhapsody, Pandora, Live 365, and Podcaster.   These companies will all reap the benefits of being readily available and “on the screen” as customers tune in to their newly-acquired television sets.  The law of increasing returns (Laureate Education, 2009) suggests that as one technology is chosen, customers continue with it, contributing to even more growth for the first-chosen technology.

Video on demand rekindles the movies at home concept.  The fact that companies such as Netflix continue to “rent” movies by delivering them to mailboxes, suggests that DVDs are not becoming obsolete; one only has to look at the shelves in Walmart to realize they continue to be sold.   As image quality becomes better and better, Blu-Ray DVD will obsolete the basic DVD however.

Vint Cerf: It’s all about Video on Demand

Anderson, C. (2004). Tech’s long tail [Video]. Retrieved from

Cerf, V. It’s all about video on demand. Retrieved from

What you need to know about the digital tv transition.  Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (2009). Emerging and future technology. Baltimore: Author.

Newman, R. (2010). How Netflix killed Blockbuster. US News & World Report: Money. Retrieved from

Netflix. Retrieved from

Samsung Blu-Ray DVD. Retrieved from

Thornburg, D. (2008c). Red Queens, butterflies, and strange attractors: Imperfect lenses into emergent technologies. Lake Barrington, IL: Thornburg Center for Space Exploration.

TIVO Retrieved from


Module Four: The Disruptive Power of Second Life

1. How is Second Life a disruptive technology?

According to Dr. Thornburg (Laureate, 2009), disruptive technologies are those which may surface without warning, change the way things are done, but have the same functionalities of an old technology while functioning more efficiently.  Second Life, launched in 2003, enables users to interact in virtual worlds, play games, travel and socialize in real-time with user-created personas, called avatars.  Second Life is considered a disruptive technology because it surfaced rather quickly, applying technology to create virtual worlds which have the potential to replace traditional computer games, and change traditional face-to-face and distance learning.

2. What technology or innovation did it replace?

Second Life replaces social interaction and online games for a segment of internet game users.  Second Life is used by some universities to present a virtual experience of the college, and has the potential to replace the need for field trips, enabling users to visit museums and other educational settings. Virtual environments would allow students to engage in role playing, which would benefit many students, while addressing their individual learning styles.  Second Life and other virtual environments would have to be introduced gradually if used in the classroom, while providing documentation to substantiate claims of benefiting our students educationally or raising test scores.  At present, Second Life is only available to users who are aged 16 or older, which for K-12 education, would only be applicable to high schoolers for a couple of years.   For this reason, it may never fully emerge in the K-12 school setting; rather be more suitable in the college setting.

3. How many years do you think Second Life has left before another emerging or disruptive technology replaces it?

Second Life launched in 2003, and continues to show growth with new users, worlds and applications.  Another technology which could replace Second Life could be some type of holographic image, which allows the user to travel to virtual locations.

4. What are the social benefits of Second Life, and what might the social implications of virtual worlds in your industry be?

Second Life or other virtual worlds provide students access to material, instructors, teaching methods and resources which may not be accessible in physical environments. Second Life allows users to create, manage and control environments which meet their needs, and can be used for entertainment as well as business. The social implications of any virtual world which allows users to remain anonymous, is the potential for misrepresentation.  Younger students, if they were allowed access to the site, could have difficulty discerning reality from fantasy.   For college-age students and in professional development, virtual worlds pose a potential for enriching the learning experience.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2009). Emerging and future technology. Baltimore: Author.

Hologram on CNN:

Second Life in education:

Module Three: Communities Rekindle the Past


Barn Raising

Futurist, Dr. Thornburg, (Laureate Education, 2009) discusses the emergence of technology, by suggesting that one method in which new innovations “catch on” is due to their ability to rekindle the past.

In the past, communities depended on one another: for support in facing hardships, for survival when faced with natural phenomenon and to provide entertainment within their communities.  As individuals moved away, their ability to maintain contact with friends and loved ones across distance has been handled through limited means over the years: snail mail, telephone, FAX, and email. Modern-day communities have expanded with the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.  Technology now allows users to maintain contact with friends and family, even from great distances, unifying each user’s community from their past and present in the convenience of one website.  Users can chat synchronously, or message asynchronously, share photos, and send/receive updates from groups of personal interest, and friends, and play games together.  These activities are reminiscent of the support and codependence of the communities of the past.






Laureate Education, Inc. (2009). Emerging and future technology. Baltimore: Author.,isz:l&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=124&vpy=144&dur=1439&hovh=195&hovw=259&tx=134&ty=70&oei=yrIvTYaGIIL-8AbXsLzTCA&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0,isz:l&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=309&vpy=144&dur=234&hovh=194&hovw=259&tx=133&ty=57&oei=yrIvTYaGIIL-8AbXsLzTCA&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0,isz:l0,1246&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=1038&vpy=334&dur=196&hovh=194&hovw=259&tx=164&ty=51&oei=JrUvTZjZJJPrgQeWt4GVCw&esq=4&page=4&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:6,s:55&biw=1333&bih=629