Attention Artists: Brushes and Paint are now Free | A Whole Lotta Nothing
The tools to deliver your creations are finally free. I am already seeing profound changes in how students can create and share their work but I bet in a couple years from now it'll be even more dramatic. We'll look back at the days when you were charged by the downloaded megabyte as quaint and laugh and wonder what things were like before YouTube and Flickr (and others, of course) took away those limits.
Quibble if you will about whether YouTube and Flickr are the brushes or the canvas (I would have gone with canvas), but the posting's point remains true: these services aloow for very rich creative expression, in a similar way to how Google's Blogger service does for text.
In fact, the use of these services' widgets—the ability for YouTube and Flickr users to propagate their own or favorite examples on their sites—takes these canvasses one step further, leveraging the free infrastructure you can find elsewhere (such as in Blogger, or a university's gratis web space) to create powerful yet inexpensive publishing possibilities across multiple media.
And "free" is an excellent price point for student artists.
This all raises the interesting question of whether the other tools for media capture and creation, will also, someday, be free. In a way, some of them are close to free, or very heavily subsidized. Apple, for instance, bundles iLife, including iMovie HD, GarageBand, and iPhoto, with every computer sold. You can get a very capable iMac starting at just under $1,000, and the entry-level MacBook is just $100 more. The ultra cheap might look to the Mac mini at $599. With a nominal retail price of $79, the iLife suite is 13% of the total cost of that Mac mini.
But will media creation always be tethered to the desktop? 9Rules' Mike Rundle says "yes," but in a rejoinder, Paul Kedrosky says "no." I think they're both right.
The very heaviest lifting will require a lot of computation on large data sets. When you're rendering frames of a digital movie for output, then the asynchronism of shipping that data over the network to a render farm is fine, but when you're touching up a large image, you want the response to be as close to immediate as possible. But is there any reason that changes in application architecture couldn't allow for hybrid applications to pull more of the heavy lifting network-side? This would allow for traditional desktop app developers to enjoy some of the benefits of providing their software as a service.