When Steve Jobs first announced the release of the iPod in 2001, it was unclear just how influential Mp3 technology would be on user-end consumer markets. Within five years, the (now) phenomenon has, literally, taken hold of and, in many respects, characterised a new generation to what I call the 'i-Gen'. This is not to say Apple Computers have single-handedly morphed a generation of people into creating a lifestyle from digitally exchanged and archived music. However, the ‘myth’ of the iPod located as a fashion accessory has driven market factors to seriously reconsider the broader capabilities of this particular technology with applications that far exceed its current boundaries.
The new all-in-one video-iPods are now well circulated amongst digital communities but these are just improvements, and small advances, on a fairly old technology with limited resources. How could the hand held device evolve and would this be different from its current usage? My prediction is that the future of nano technologies will bridge a symbiotic application merging the digital and the biological together and, in doing so, will extend the iPod from media gizmo to post-human receptor.
Image a world where you could download and consume music straight into your brain? Technology so advanced that the division between digital and body are blurred. Plug yourself into an iPod and download antibiotics, or anti-aging nano-agents. Send robots into your body to rebuild hair follicles and limbs, cure acne and grow or repair internal organs, all from a wireless iPod connected to the bio-net (internet turned biological). This is where I see the future of media after the digital; reliant on the nano and its associated currencies that this will undoubtedly develop thereafter.
The major problem with a bio-nanonic iPod is the interjection between device and body. Would the body itself be genetically engineered with connecting ports - like a USB or FireWire - from which to plug such devices into? Could wireless become so advanced that the projection of nano-like robots penetrate the body through receptors, implanted as if some kind of small computer chip or even more advanced, a micro-sized internal port injected into the blood stream or tissue to circulate throughout the body indefinitely?
The ethical issues which surround such a venture are monumental. These far distant iPods could be used for measures of attack – from military hardware, state and religious terrorism, scientific exploitation, torture or coercive interference, to marketing, advertising, communication and fashion.
The future of media – an ‘after-digital’ regime – is surely in development yet throughout the next decade, advancements and investment into nano applications could bare witness to the next generation of human evolution and consumption where people are not only genetically altered but inter-connected, as if some borg-like structure, with one another. What is next for new media consumption? – the collective post-human.