When Gutenberg invented the printing press around 1440 it put thousands of scribes and monks out of work. For centuries they had laboured for hours to copy books and other manuscripts, but, with the ability to mass-produce the written word, printing ushered in a whole new era of communication.
Now, we are once again experiencing a seismic shift in the way we receive our news, information and entertainment. Newspapers and magazines around the world have been going out of business for some time and now many traditional television and radio outlets are facing a similar fate.
All you have to do is look around at commuters to see how tablets and smartphones have replaced newspapers and books. Why would they pay for a newspaper to read on the way to work when they can get breaking news by scrolling through a list of websites on their phablets for free?
To survive, traditional newspapers like the New York Times are using their name recognition to make the switch to the Web alongside thousands of online news sources such as the Huffington Post. However, many smaller publications have not been able to adapt a successful business model and have disappeared.
Television and radio are beginning to experience a similar fate. Customers who once had to pay cable companies for their TV service are using the Internet to stream movies and TV shows, often for free. The Web also has thousands of Internet radio stations that cater to every musical niche imaginable.
Unlike print though, streaming content puts a huge burden on subscribers’ Internet connections and the entire Internet itself. The increased bandwidth demands have encouraged a switch from copper cabling to fiber optic, which can transmit thousands of times more data.
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