From modern transportation to financial networks, we rely on digital data everyday whether it be at work, school, or play. And now, more than ever, this data needs to be carefully managed across different “boundaries,” without losing control. Considering how tightly integrated data is in our lives today, how did we ever get by without it?


Over the next few weeks, this blog series will examine the important role data plays in various industries and the impact of going a day without data…


Putting the ME in MEdia

Media theorist, Marshall McLuhan was famous for saying “the medium is the message.” Basically it means that each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own unique message that helps shape and control how we interact with one another and how we consume content.


This was written back in the 60’s when radio, television and print were the main mediums for media and entertainment. Fast forward 60 years, how, when and where people consume content / entertainment (the medium) has changed dramatically and at the center of this shift is technology and data.


To compare for a moment, let’s think back to when JFK was shot – everyone old enough to know what had happened remembers where they were and the TV they were glued to on that day. Jump ahead to the day Steve Jobs died – tributes and word of the news began appearing immediately on Facebook and Twitter. The reaction was so large that both and the Twitter API went down for about 30 minutes. People didn’t have to be glued to the TV to see the news – they were able to get the news from the very device that Steve Jobs revolutionized, and instantly honor the man by posting their own tribute.


Today, technology is enabling every person to control what they watch / listen to, when and where they want.  Instead of watching the latest blockbuster at the theatre, people are watching it on Video-on-Demand (VOD) from their living room. When watching their favorite sports team LIVE, they’re also tracking the game as well as interacting with others in real-time on Twitter, Facebook, their mobile phone, tablet and most recently a smartwatch. As the medium changes, so does the way we interact and react to a given message.


So by McLuhan’s theory, today’s technology – the Internet, smart devices, streaming services, social media content, etc. is shaping how we consume content with a core message of personal control and access – basically putting the ME in MEdia.


On the flip-side, it also raises the question: what would happen if we had to go a day without our data-driven media?




In Back to the Future, it was hard to believe a family could own two televisions in 1955- a pretty common thing 30 years later in 1985. It’s been 30 years since 1985, and the idea of having only two screens to watch, listen and consume content from is as unusual now as it was when Marty had to go back to the future on November 5, 1955…but for very different reasons.


Between computers (personal and business), smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and…actual televisions, people have more options than ever before as to how they can consume content. Technology and data-driven media has given rise to multi-screen viewing and TV Everywhere.


This shift in how we consume content is only increasing. According to Adobe’s Digital Index Video Benchmark, video viewing has increased dramatically across smart devices in the last couple of years, with smartphone viewing up 75 percent year-over-year (YoY) in 2014, and tablet share up 50 percent YoY.


Without data/digitized content, the infrastructure to deliver it and the devices to view it on, this simply wouldn’t be possible. Without it, the closest thing to mobile viewing would mean having wheels on the family TV set to watch programs while they eat.


Saying goodbye to multi-screen and mobile viewing isn’t the only major impact a day without data would mean.


Part-and-parcel with multi-screen / mobile viewing is having the control and access to watch what you want, when you want to.  Streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, and TV Everywhere packages from cable providers, has given viewers complete control over what, when and where they watch.


Furthermore, the ability to access content in real-time isn’t just limited to binge watching shows like Breaking Bad or The Wire. For sports fans, access to content and data is no longer a luxury, but an expectation.  Thanks to technology, fans can put themselves in the shoes of the player with access to granular stats, like player matchups, stadium humidity, etc. in real time, through whatever smart device they happen to be using.  But this can extend beyond smart devices, as sports teams, much like the San Francisco 49ers, are actually building smarter stadiums to ensure this expectation.



This unprecedented access to content in real-time, anywhere, on any device is 100 percent contingent on the infrastructure powering it.  As mentioned above, without data/digitized content, the infrastructure to deliver it and the devices to view it on, this simply wouldn’t be possible.   We’d again be dependent on the program manager and the TV to dictate what and when we watch, and sportscast to keep abreast of the local team.


At the end of the day, the technology we use to consume media and entertainment has grown in leaps and bounds in the last 30 years.  As McLuhan noted, the technology has greatly shaped how we interact with one another and how we consume content. Ultimately, it’s changed our expectations.


How has technology changed how you consume media within the last few years, and where do you think it will take us next? Let us know in the comment section below.

NetApp Staff