or as I like to think of it…
The Future of your Job in IT
Since I moved over to the new blog site, I’ve done a couple of write ups of some basic code that involves Usability, Microsoft Expression Blend and Designer, and similar tools and I’ve made mention of Silverlight, and WPF and of all things… Adobe After Effects and even Wondertouch software’s tools lately. I’ve hinted that these are skills everyone needs in the time to come.
But a lot of these are design elements, a lot of these are video production tools and CGI tools. And Usability … how does that tie in to them? And more importantly how does all of that translate into real world work – if you’re not working for a global-mega-conglomerate with a multi-bahzillion dollar budget how often will you need those tools those skills?
I mean, c’mon I can’t really expect Joe Developer or Jane Designer out there to break out what amounts to a couple grand in software just for a simple database application right?
So here’s where I bring together some of these strange elements of design and development into something that makes sense and direction to this scattered madness.
About two months ago I began noticing a trend in Program Management and Developer recruiters in the IT industry that called me about jobs. Now, generally they ask for experience in Java or Flash for design work, and they ask about C# or C or C++ if it’s an application … sometimes they toss in WinAPI or Win32 if they are trying to sound like they know things. If it’s a Web job – it’s ASP.NET or C# and Visual Studio.
But what triggered was suddenly the number of calls for skills with WPF, for Silverlight and this caught my attention. Not one or two – but around 15 different recruiters asking for skills in these areas in 2 months. So this kind of a trend isn’t coming … it’s hit. Odds are it’s only going to get bigger.
Why? Why not just go with Flash which is the traditional standby, or GDI? Good question. So I started paying attention to what they wanted in the job requirements I was seeing. The trend is very clear – video is finally coming of age and it doesn’t matter if you’re Microsoft or IBM or Saul’s All Night Diner out on Route 4… people know that it’s on the web.
Recently a study showed that an alarming number of people are doing most of their entertainment viewing over the Internet. Movies and TV shows which last year were just “Tivo’d” are now – on demand for people. And that’s not where the entertainment trail ends. The Internet, and computers in general are finally pushing the envelope between work and play areas for games into entertainment centers. (Bill Gates should be proud – he’s only been saying this was coming for about 15 years.)
If we learned anything from Radio, TV, and the Internet – it’s that once there’s a market, people figure out how to advertise on it effectively. Recently Sci-Fi channel has had a very strange and for the most part really cheesey little known all internet series going called, “Gemini Division” starring Rosaria Dawson and Justin Hartley (who seems to be in everything on TV lately from Smallville to Supernatural to you name it – I frankly expect him to turn up on Two-and-a-Half men next week just because he’s missed that show).
Cool huh? Content that only people on the Internet – only people with a computer… get. It’s directed at a specific kind of user and that user is “US” – the geeks have finally inherited the earth!
But… Now it’s time to stop and ask… who’s paying the tax on all that real estate? I mean lets face it – uninterrupted shows with big name actors and all aimed at us – that ain’t cheap. Someone has to pay these people so … who is it? Here’s a clue… you’ll see something like this in every episode. What’s that uber cool interface on her uber cool video/internet phone of the future? Well it’s some kind of new never seen before Microsoft Mobile device interface isn’t it? Wait… how’s she locating stuff? Why… it’s Microsoft Live Search and Microsoft Live Maps.
In the time span of almost 15 seconds – Microsoft got more positive exposure with a directed audience they KNOW is interested in their product than if they’d paid for the entire show… and no – they didn’t. Because they’re not the only advertiser in the show… there are dozens. The commercials don’t interrupt the show – because they’re all through it. The commercials ARE the show.
And this isn’t the only show to do this. Let’s discuss one of my favorite shows which has been frankly over the
top with the whole “we’re actually a commercial” concept. In fact they came right out the first episode this season and told us that they were going to do this – right to our faces.
At the end of the first episode – they had the cast ask “Hey whats all this stuff?” as the guys from the Degree for Men came pushing in crate after crate of the product on set. The response was and yes I am paraphrasing, “You’ll be seeing a lot of changes around here, we’re going to be profitable and this is one of the first of many corporate sponsors for (Eureka).”. Which is exactly what was going on in real life – making it even more fun to see it on the show.
They not only did real Degree for Men commercials with the cast in character for spots during the shows – they’ve taken it a step farther and it’s a running gag in the show that they’ve even used to save the day with Degree for Men – able to withstand the blistering heat of the sun!
And – btw – the shows are all downloadable off the Internet. Something we’re seeing over and over all across the internet. In time – we’re likely to see content and bidding wars from sponsors for shows on the internet. Got a video blog that’s popular? Here’s $5,000 if you suck down a cola with the right brand – and only that cola. That’s where its not just heading – its already there in some parts of the net.
So where does that fit into us as developers and designers for the web and the desktop? Where do we fit into all of this?
If you think for one second that this is a fad and it’s going to die out – you’re sadly mistaken. This is now officially a multibillion dollar a year market that has just been tapped. It’s the reinvention of the Internet for the 3rd time. This is … the Web 3.0.
I’ll make the prediction that it’ll start slowly for most – initially it’s going to be people asking, “Hey I’ve got a car company – what would it take to make a TV show just around my car company… just stupid like 20 –30 second skits to put on our web page that we update every month or so??”.
That’s where it starts. And then when someone does it – someone else will say, “You know who you should talk to is Bob Jakobson <insert your name for mine here> … I saw some of his work and it’s freakin great! You bring him your video and he cleans it up and adds computer effects and drops it on your web site and the fee is pretty damn cheap.”.
The next thing you know guess what? We’re all back in the days when anyone who knew Flash and Actionscript could be guaranteed a job.
And… it’s not going to stop there. It’ll be desktop apps and sidebar widgets and you name it.
Now do you see why I’ve been going in this direction? Because it’s the only direction we have in a very uncertain economy that puts us ahead of the pack – that puts us forward. And at the end of the day that’s really what it’s about for every designer or developer out there, being able to pay the bills with our day jobs while we dream of what the future is and push one step farther into it.
So… next time – I will update you with more coolness on this front with more toys and code and fun now that we’ve established the direction. :-)