Me and you on YouTube

Riding the lip of the tech wave requires constant surfing of the virtual kind. Twelve years ago the web browser Netscape overtook Mosaic just as the search engine Altavista later gave way to Google. Flash memory jumped from 128 MB to 6 GBs in the space of two years, all tucked into the palm of your hand. Podcasts were fresh for about 12 months until videoblogs and YouTube made them passe. What lies ahead? Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are competing to place a single computing unit in your family room that will link to consoles in your bedroom, kitchen, basement, and study. Internet content will enter your house over traditional electrical grid and follow the wires to outlets in every room. Netflix faces obsolescence when Internet bandwidth expands enough to allow movies and music to be downloaded in the span of minutes. These rapid transitions and leap-frogs of technology and usability will not stop anytime soon. That is the reason why I'm uploading the Backpacker.com videos to YouTube as well as the magazine's website. Print publications are caught in a sprint race to the Web right now--except that no one knows when or where the race will end. Creating original content and growing audiences are the keys to winning the race. In this sense, the contest resembles the battle fought by Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, and Excite to corner the email address market in the late 1990s. Many start this race but only a few will win. In five years--when 2012 rolls around--we'll see what the results tell us. After all, five years ago, in early 2002, the 5GB iPod was a few months old, and Google was hardly a household word, let alone a $500 stock.