Well, I’ve been lurking around numerous blogs over the past several weeks looking for my voice. I finally settled on Typepad as my microphone and I'm clearing my throat.
First of all, the changes taking place in the media and entertainment industries are absolutely amazing, and important. This industry largely shapes the way in which people look at the world. Not all people, mind you, but most people. As a result, we all have an obligation to take more than a passing interest in how this industry operates and evolves. I think the health and wealth of our democracy and our society depends upon it. (Deep, I know, and not entirely related to this post)
One trend that has struck me as most significant is the blurring of the lines between consumer and producer. This has become most evident in the blog community as tools like Typepad have made producing content almost as easy as consuming content. The results are startling; it appears that millions of consumers want to also be producers. I would expect this trend to continue and branch into other forms of media. (Podcasting appears to be driving this trend in audio.)
While the long term effects of this blurring is unsure, one thing seems certain, engaging others in a conversation as opposed to a lecture will almost always result in a superior outcome for both parties. This outcome will manifest itself in a group that is both empowered by better information and motivated to readily share their own opinions and viewpoints with others. “As intelligence piles on intelligence, the speed changes…” and so on and so forth. (But now I’m going too deep and again getting way off topic)
Anyway, the point is that the entire media ecosystem has become stale and devoid of life, devoid of dialogue. This is a natural outcome of broadcast nature of our media sources. Consumers, unable to participate in the conversation must be satisfied to merely sit back and wait for Ebert, Jimmy, or Entertainment Weekly to give them the thumbs up. Now I’m not saying that sitting back isn’t what most people still want to do, it’s just that there are a lot that have something to say and a lot more that wouldn’t mind listening.
The Internet appears to be providing an environment in which this new model can emerge, one in which consumers are producers and a true conversation can arise. While initially the conversation will revolve around the topics already on the table (we’re all going to use this powerful new tool to watch episodes of “24,” “American Idol,” and “the OC” when and where we want), I would expect new topics to rapidly percolate up through the crusty shell of this base dialogue. After the novelty wears off and it becomes clear that it’s still the same lecture, some or most will realize that this is actually not really utilizing the true potential of this bidirectional network, it’s not engaging in the conversation.
It will be an ugly process. Most of the initial content will be dull, uninteresting, and intensely stupid, but over time the quality of the conversation will improve and eventually surpass the vacuous eloquence of “The Bachelorette.” I can guarantee it. I’m not even sure what it will look like. As a matter of fact, taking a stab at it brings to mind covers of magazines like "Popular Mechanics" in the 1950s depicting the cars of the future. I’m sure it’ll be comically off base. But the fact remains, a billion consumers with HD camcorders embedded in their cell phones are probably going to come up with some pretty interesting dialogue.
Anyway, this stuff fascinates me. I want to start the conversation with others who are similarly intrigued. I’ll just keep rambling until that happens.