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

Sep 122005

4 year out people are never that popular in the playground:cry:

© gary hayes 2005Didn’t want to use that title but there are limited ‘personal’ pun opportunities sadly. In my time at the BBC from 1995 to 2004 I was caught uncontrollably on the crest of the emerging media wave (my bio for those who are interested can be found here). As a leader within the emerging media part of the organization I was often ‘expected’ to be visionary and foretell the future. This has it’s good points but many, very many bad points. Progress is often slow and even though the BBC is now seen as a pioneer in many ways, inside the organization one was often caught walking in treacle, trying to convince the unbelievers.

I remember after we had developed most of the interactive TV pilots and then early services to air – apart from synchronization and return path (that I partly introduced later) we were unlikely to see very much more innovation on interactive TV. I became attracted very quickly into the potential of on demand TV services (given that broadband to PC was still a poor cousin). In fact I actually produced the very first BBC broadband TV service X-creatures, for a London audience running on 2.5Mbps DSL in 2000 – but that’s another story. Anyway getting to the point it became blatantly obvious in 2001 or so where we (the industry and the BBC) were headed, long term. This was compounded by the fact that I was involved as Chair of the Business Models for TV-Anytime that was already working 5-7 years out into the future on a hyper-distributed, on-demand, anywhere, anytime standards universe. Always being the 4 year out person is tough, people prefer those safe, cuddly 4 week out production people 😉 Here are some predictions I gave in 2000 at a few conferences including Perth’s famous Small Screen Big Picture – not going to make me popular with anyone is it!

“Over a 15 year, medium term broadband future terms such as Film, TV, Radio & the Internet will start to disappear from our next generation’s vocabulary. Audiences will interactively share & access video, audio and games across a sea of devices, partly oblivious of appointment-to-view in the 20th Century.”
Gary Hayes – Snr Producer, BBC. Presentation at Small Screen Big Picture, Nov 2000, Perth

I was caught at one end between production catching up with those early aspirational services and at the other end the joys of developing peer-to-peer and on-demand TV strategies 10+ years out. This does indeed stretch a person because (and it would be great to have a quote for this, suggestions please) to look forward with a sense of realism you have to hold in your mind the trail of breadcrumbs back to the present day. Sounds pompous but if one loses that trail you come adrift, lose the plot, float off into blue sky – many have succumbed to this sadly. I tried to keep feet on the ground and mostly succeeded I hope.

To the present day and it is with great satisfaction that my BBC are finally preaching those words at the Director General level. To quote Mark Thomson again.

I see no reason why BBC broadband reach shouldn’t approach the historic levels achieved by the BBC’s television and radio services…we believe that on-demand changes the terms of the debate, indeed that it will change what we mean by the word ‘broadcasting’. It’s not, of course, the only feature of this phase of digital, but we believe it’s by far the most important as far as the BBC is concerned.
This decade will be the decade of on-demand.

Posted by: © Gary Hayes 2005