You probably haven't heard of Bram Cohen. He isn't starring in a movie, he doesn't rush for 100 yards a game, and he's not a figure in the White House/CIA imbroglio. But he has created BitTorrent, a software application that represents the increasingly uncertain media landscape of the future. BitTorrent is affecting the way media is created and used. It's also becoming an emblem for media that is squarely in the hands of consumers.
I have friends who've been talking about BitTorrent for months. Some are so far ahead of the curve that it seems they have already rounded the block and are sneaking up behind me. I've never been much for leaning my throat too forcefully against the cutting edge of media and technology, but I have been willing to scrape my fingers on it from time to time.
As the "gray market" for media comes into focus, Hollywood and Madison Avenue look for ways to do business with increasingly savvy consumers.
As this column went to bed, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced plans for a new Emmy award recognizing original programming presented on non-traditional viewing platforms, including "computers, mobile phones, PDAs, and similar devices." Earlier in the day, at the Traffic Audit Bureau's Out-of-Home Advertising Forum, Starcom's Jack Sullivan and John Marson of Kraft Foods described how electronic billboards equipped with Bluetooth technology were transforming billboards into the next digital, interactive medium, one capable of running TV-like commercials. Also that day, Hasbro announced deals with Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon to download cartoons to a …