So far audio on the net is booming. Many local radiostations literally transmit their radioprograms through the internet, potentially reaching a worldwide audience. New radiostation are started, purely as web-based radioprograms, working around the restrictions of radioaccess. These are instances of first use: translate radio literally onto the web. Just as the first motorised vehicles were modelled after the horse carriage. However, more web-suitable uses for streaming media do emerge. Using the web as a way to store resources is one of them. Audiofragments can be taken from the web, downloaded and reedited, by different radiomakers around the globe. Working together with editors from different countries, sharing resources is the network way of working. It opens up interesting perspectives, like being able to team up with like-minded spirits and organise alternatives for the big news networks like CNN. In order to get such alternative newsservices rolling, no hierarchical structures are needed, just good mailinglists, and a clear editorial databases as tools.
This way of working points to another important principle: As long as the net is not universally accessible, it will stay important to keep a link between the web and real radio- and tvstations, broadcasting locally. The radio and tv are simple devises to which much more people have access than to the web. Storing radioprogramms on the net in order for other radiostations to stream it onto the "old" radiochannels is a very good use. Actually, the "old" media -radio and tv-, will always be more suitable, and certainly more economic, for mass communication, from one to many. Radio and tv programmes are sent once, and are received by many, while webstreaming must be carried to everyone personally.
However the strongpoint of the web: interactivity, and networking, will lead to still other approaches of program-making. Tv and radio are push media, where the producer has his/her story to tell, but the streaming media on the web allow for a very different dramaturgy. This seems the strong point of the net: networking, adding your brainpower to a fruitful environment, thereby becoming a powerful channel, just by combining intelligence. This is just what streaming media program-makers should specialise in: Not so much making finished programs as making contexts of information and entertainment where others are inspired to add their expertise and creativity.
This concept can only really become normal practice after a great psychological revolution in the minds of program-makers. Some of their basic principles will be overthrown.
You will have to accept that the programs you make are not under your control totally: others will influence the product your are making.
Your program might never be finished, it can grow by people adding information.
Some pessimists fear loss of freedom, by regulations and the closing of access to producers of tactical streaming media programs. Surely there are dangers if no effort on our part is taken. However, the dynamics of the net indicate there are changes for tactical media-channels to keep visible in a world of big corporations.
First of all the software to stream is of great importance. Some people expect the freedom of today to perish when big companies join their powers and form mega-channels, using the available bandwidth, and high quality standards, which will stay out of (financial) reach of smaller organisations. But until now the developments on software on the net has been an interesting cat-and-mouse game between the old model of having power through exclusive and expensive production tools, and the newer model of power within a network, sharing software in an open source-type environment. Somehow the brainpower of the (alternative) open source movement seems to overpower time and again the old power model. Tools for all should be an important theme the coming years, and it stands a change in an open source environment. Streaming video for lynux, MP3 and other encoding software will surely become more important.
Secondly; access to servers with good internetconnection and bandwidth and room on servers to save mediafiles is of crucial importance.
In order to keep a "public space" where multimedia programs can be stored, there must be a fight for diskspace and connectivity.
It is important that cultural backbones, freenets and digital public spaces maintain momentum, in order to keep room for public streaming media channels next to the few big strongholds on the net. Maybe the non-for-profit servers connected to the Internet, should team up to form a new PGO in order to secure public media channels on the Internet. These internet spaces will also encourage commercial servers to keep their webspace open for individual users to produce their own streaming media files at reasobable costs.
Last but not least: information exists if it is known and visible. There are worries that big media corporations might take over all the attention of the audience once they team up and get rolling. Even in this regard I'm optimistic, if independent media-makers find ways to team up on the web. The mail to mail -hearing from others what are good website-, and hyperlinking are still strong ways to get your site known.
However the role of searchengines to find information is very important. With most of the successful searchengines sold to big corporations, biased searching will be a fact. It's of great importance to build a public search engine, owned by no one, giving priority to unique and high quality websites, both for websites and for streaming engines. It's no time to profess who will be streaming, nor yet clear what and how streaming media will change the media practice and products. The way we deal with the issues of importance to the future development will have an important impact on the future medialandscape.