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Friday, April 24, 2009

The Predictor



Try as hard as I might, I've found it difficult to be interested in the current series of The Apprentice. It's not just that Sir Alan's gagwriters seem to have been slid as low as his property portfolio, it's also the crew of monkey-brained hobgoblins that the BBC has assembled and persists in calling "candidates". Even a brief Tweetstorm during the first episode couldn't sustain my interest. But that changed this week when my son was playing with his newly Easy Peasy-powered eeePC, and fired up The Predictor during the show. The downside of The Predictor is that being Flash-based, it doesn't work on the iPod Touch, so you have to have the laptop out during the show. But The Predictor is still interesting for two reasons.

First, it's one of the best demonstrations of crowdsourcing I have seen. In the semi-random, designed to shock decision-making process of the boardroom, the crowd normally get the right answer. Web 3.0? You're watching it.

Second, The Predictor is a synchronous event, and it represents the best chance broadcast media have to save itself from oblivion. Asynchronous online multimedia cannot justify the megabudgets the broadcast industry has been used to. Industry becomes cottage industry. But in making programs synchronous events once more, we are dragged back to a central location which the channel owns.

So what? Today it's the decline in traditional media - newspapers and broadcast. Tomorrow it's education. Sit up and pay attention.