Dec 202007

Woman pointsWell a bit of a pompous title perhaps, fueled by a report just published by Pew Internet (one of my fav research groups) who reminded me of something a few of us have been bleating on about for a while – that the last 200 years of media distribution have been an anomaly. Dominated by scarecity of broadcast, one-to-many channels and power-to-the-few editorial, the way ‘stories’ have been shared have been a blip in human evolution. The limited pipes that have led the way are now being eroded as more and more of the ‘connected’ (Gen C, Y particularly) see spending most time sharing their conversation and inherent creativity as a natural, immersive activity. They see their expression being filtered by commissioners, moderators and editors as unnatural and alien. The best ‘creators’ will be able to charge for their work which is valued highly by their interest groups, they are what we used to call professionals. Also groups of people who ‘manage’ the best creators will grow and die organically in the connected community and they are what we used to call studios, music A&R departments and broadcasters.

Anyway to the report, PDF here, which simply shows how making stuff and sharing it over the global network is second nature to the ‘connected’ generations.

“Content creation by teenagers continues to grow, with 64% of online teenagers ages 12 to 17 engaging in at least one type of content creation, up from 57% of online teens in 2004….The survey found that content creation is not just about sharing creative output; it is also about participating in conversations fueled by that content. Nearly half (47%) of online teens have posted photos where others can see them, and 89% of those teens who post photos say that people comment on the images at least “some of the time.”

We are also seeing in social networks that have simple tools to create, Second Life is a good example, 30-40% of the time in those spaces are spent making stuff. Humans are just natural builders, talkers and peer controlled tribal entities – that won’t be affected by 200 years of limited channels. I often hear traditionalists say ‘the community will never create the film The Titanic”. Consider groups of talented community creators creating content that will want to be seen by more people than those marketed at to go see the film Titanic and then the value of any piece of content becomes driven by the collective. The long tail may start to flatten and invert. As to production value, yes good training will never be questioned, but the best equipment and the cost of experimentation is dropping dramatically and the price of iterative, create, learn from mistakes, create better is within the reach of many. Back to the report which reinforces my mild rant two posts ago where I reacted against some PhD folk at a conference I was presenting at who said Web 2.0 participation doesn’t exist because only 1% of people create stuff. Well this Gen C, Y research suggests otherwise and participation does actually mean a lot more than just uploading a ‘meaningful’ video (the example they gave of what the pinnacle of community input is – heritage media thinking) – in fact, as many strategists and social network gurus state, the conversation is now the content not the form or device it is delivered through.

There is a subset of teens who are super-communicators — teens who have a host of technology options for dealing with family and friends, including traditional landline phones, cell phones, texting, social network sites, instant messaging, and email. They represent about 28% of the entire teen population and they are more likely to be older girls.

The report post here. Again good job Pew

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2007

Mar 212006

Media distribution is truly changing. Heritage (that includes broadcast) media is moving out of its chrysalis state with networked, broadband TV media emerging. How long before it completely bursts out of its shell. Bits of its wings, legs, antenae are visible but how long before it is ready to fly? After talking to a few industry folk today about to launch IPTV trials at up to 100Mbs and reading several reports I suspect it is going to be (mixing metaphors) a very difficult birth. Even though in France, IPTV is said to have brought broadband penetration up to a record 75% and in the UK open competition is forcing British Telecom’s hand to roll out IPTV nationwide in rapid timeframe – some territories ‘idiotic’ regulation is making their media industry look postively last century.

I am staggered to see in some countries the strangle-hold traditional commercial free-to-air broadcasters have over government who impose ridiculous media regulation. Also how much the ‘goverment beaten’ telcos in the same countries are justifying over-charging its customers to protect and reap back so-called investment in faster connectivity – that it believes will be sold off cheap to competition. Finally I am shocked to see how far heritage media (broadcast cable, satellite and terrestrial) may go to stop the telcos edging in on their market. This article (Cable Industry Refuses to Run Paid For Verizon Commercial) from TVoverNet shows how worried old media are by the butterfly emerging from its bosom.

Dennis Bone, president of Verizon New Jersey. “The cable industry is erecting yet another barrier to efforts to give consumers in New Jersey what they want and deserve: a choice of cable TV providers.”
The 30-second spot, titled “CPI,” has a simple message. It states that, since 2001, cable prices have increased four times as much as the Consumer Price Index. “While prices in some industries have actually gone down, cable rates have risen 86 percent” since 1995, according to the FCC, as stated in the commercial.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006

Sep 282005

Harley Santa Barbara ©Gary Hayes 2005A post without the obligatory “I-just-read-this-and-heres-the-link”. Just me having a very mild rant – no links, just words. Content over technology, perhaps.

There is no doubt the media world is in serious transition now. Not the sort of slow transition we have seen since the early 90s as the global network gradually infiltrated our everyday lives but far more profound and ground shifting. A level where the essence of human personality (as blogs become vlogs) and the highest quality media (as real media becomes HD) are beginning to dominate that same network. A shift where the old business models are truly starting to see cracks in their foundations.

As with any transition where the new replaces the old there is a tendency to focus on the enablers too much. Like the first travellers by steam train, there was more interest by the watchers in the turbines, the coach decoration and the sheer power of the machine rather than the destination itself – the reason the thing existed for in the first place to get bodies from a to b. It took a long time before trains became commonplace and now of course we see them mostly as functional and providing a basic service, while we concentrate on the ‘life of travel’ they enable. The same was true of the car, plane, phone, early TV and so on. So here we are ‘blinded-by-the-next-light’ as we turn this corner towards ubiquitous, broader, bandwidth.

So it is no surprise that we have commentators the world over, in their train-spotting garb with laptops at the ready, ooh’ing and aar’ing over the new toys on the shelf. These new toys being bit torrent, VoIP, IPTV, PVR’s, PSP’s, 3G mobiles, Xbox360s, MP3 players and so on, and so on. Basically shiny new gadgets that enable new ways to distribute content – but why, oh why, can’t we cut straight to the chase – the content itself. Bit torrent is great, sure. But like the invention of any technology that allows us to self publish and share – cave wall painting, paper, books, the telephone, cassette, CD, VHS, DVD the medium is most definitely not the message. The other technical enablers VoIP or IPTV are just more variations in an already established protocol to move audio or video around more efficiently. When we got over the remarkable texture of mass produced manuscript paper we were able to appreciate Shakespeare’s sonnets. When we lost our fascination in the those amazing moving projected pictures we were able to consider what Citizen Kane really meant. When we stopped gasping at the feat of moving 10 million polygons per second, we just played Halo. Let’s hope when the hype of hyper-distribution dies down we will get on with really creatively exploiting the opportunities.

Then there are the client devices the PSP, PVR, Media Center to XBox360 and so on. All basic computers in new ‘emperors’ clothes – each new device with a faster processor, bigger hard drive and more receivers for broadband/cast content, part of the transition to who knows where. In any case we all know these are PC constructs. Perhaps we have two clear devices in the future – a home ‘everything’ and a mobile ‘everything’ – sometimes one wishes we could get to that final design quicker. Much the way the car settled into a common format after 40 years or so, we can imagine a converged home server device that connects to any content source and has the horse-power to play photo-realistic games – but here we go again, even I’m talking about the next shiny train coming along the tracks!

We are moving swiftly towards democratisation of media distribution, a long tail of user generated, self-published content, some good, most average but hopefully full of invention, new forms and deeply personalized. Content that surprises with its originality, content that breaks as many moulds as there are left. As we turn this particular corner, lets hope the transition is swift and that we can again focus quickly on creating compelling new media types, fresh services and the a new generation of interactivity. Never mind the bandwidth feel the content.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005