Time to Get a New Medium
turbotodd 100000388Y Comments (2) Visits (1477)
Wall Street Journal (registration required) article on the podcasting "land rush." Not so much because I'm an Internet technology/media snob/purist (although I probably am), but because you can just see these things coming like the hyperbolic snowball that becomes all these Internet phenomena: blogs, RSS, podcasts, etc. ad nauseum ad infinitum.
So, I'm going to stay off my e-centric high horse and talk about this from a perspective that hopefully we can all relate to via the more important concept that has come to be referred to as "time shifting."
Here's the deal: Time is the most precious commodity any of us have these days. Most of us spend way too much of it at work, or travelling to and from work, or to, from, and at kids' after-school events, etc. There aren't enough hours (much less minutes or seconds) in the day, and so time has become the most precious commodity any of us have. We allocate it even more preciously than we do our money (well, maybe not, but you get the point). I'm surprised nobody has figured out a way to package up time and auction it on eBay in small bottles. If anybody has, please ping me.
Which is where the point of this rant comes in, the media. Once upon a time, the so-called "traditional" media worked to slice and dice us people into neat, demographic segments that they could then package up as "audiences" and sell access to us to them marketers. (A friendly reminder: The first radio serials were produced by Proctor & Gamble, which sent sales of Oxydol laundry detergent into the stratosphere).
This model is intrinsic to most major media today, and it worked well for oh, let's say, about the last 70 years.
Then digital technologies began to emerge that sent many media executives running for the Geoffrey Moore new business-model, paradigm-shifting, crossing-the-chasm whiteboard, mainly those media on and enabled by the Internet.
If these traditional media were an oligarchy, these new media are a democracy. They are much more participatory in nature -- renowned media theorist Marshall McLuhan called them the "cool media" -- and they require the audience to become more actively engaged in the consumption of and response to the media. Napster, TiVo, podcasting, etc....the list of the most recent culprits goes on for several scrolls in your standard browser.
But the fragmentation of the mass media is as much representative of the opportunities that this fragmentation creates for consumers as the threats it presents to those in the media business. That's because these new technologies empower the you's and me's of the world to take back some of our time and consume media at our leisure, increasingly when and in what format we chose. In turn, it is encouraging the traditional media to innovate and develop new business models that let them capitalize on these new opportunities whil addressing their threats.
When I got my first digital video recorder type device (other than my PC), I was living and working in New York City at the height of the Internet bubble. I didn't have a lot of free time at the time, and I hardly watched any TV. Within days of getting my ReplayTV box, I had turned into a virtual TV junkie. What happened, you ask participatorily?
I had been liberated from the enslavement of the network TV schedule. I could now watch whatever I recorded, whenever I wanted, without the rocket science degree required to program my VCR and with the intelligence intrinsic to the new digital technology. My time was again my own, and the media companies were rapidly encouraged to think about new ways by which they would reach me. Today, I use a more sophisticated cable box DVR, and while I may skip some commercials, I watch plenty of others.
The rising time shift liberates all schedules.
Your iPod, blogs like this one that alert you to the notification of new postings via RSS feeds, your digital cable's personal video recorder...all of these new technologies are nothing more than a mere means by which you can grab some of that precious time back.
Precious free time that I now spend most of checking out all these really cool new technologies. ; )