The New Media Cocktail: Introduction
Below is the introduction to The New Media Cocktail e-book I released last week. Over the course of this holiday week, I will be releasing excerpts of that e-book on this blog. Feel free to download the e-book in its entirety, if you prefer.
I’m a media and information junkie. I consume gobs of content every day, most of it online now. I watch video, listen to podcasts, and read blogs and traditional media online. I subscribe to RSS feeds and email newsletters. I surf web sites to find serendipitous information. I devour magazines.
This is not new. As a kid, I would stay up late into the night reading and listening to AM talk radio (at least when the Boston Red Sox weren’t playing on the West Coast). I’d catch a few hours of sleep, get up and listen to AM newsradio and read the newspaper before heading off to school. Upon arriving home, I would read the afternoon paper and watch the evening news. Once my parents got cable, I added CNN and C-SPAN.
As a college graduate, I began the day with four morning newspapers plus CNN and C-SPAN. When I worked on Capitol Hill, I was fortunate enough to have access to the raw AP feed – talk about a fire hose of information!
Later in my career, the web came into being. I could now read news from around the nation, and especially from back home in New England so I could stay on top of Boston sports and New Hampshire news. I remember the feeling of glee I had in the mid-1990s when I could watch cable news streams on my computer at work (before the cable networks realized the bandwidth of the era was too expensive to sustain that model).
Regular readers of my blog and listeners to my podcast understand that I’m very interested in the future of media. OK, obsessed is more like it, but that’s what happens to junkies. Since the start of this year, and perhaps a bit before that, I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about what the media of the future looks like and what the business implications are.
Put simply: the rules of media are changing. It’s an exciting time to be looking at the media space. After spending countless hours reading and thinking about media, I concluded that the handwriting is on the wall for two compelling trends to emerge:
I started writing a blog post about this topic to explain what I have been telling friends and colleagues for some time now. And then it spiraled out of control. Instead of a simple blog post, I wound up with an e-book. I have tried to keep it short, but I wanted to share my prediction for the future of media as clearly as I could.
Of course, not one of us knows for certain what the future holds, but here’s my vision. I welcome your feedback because ultimately, like any good libation, the New Media Cocktail should generate conversation.
The New Media Cocktail
As the rules of media continue to change, a New Media Cocktail will emerge containing two powerful spirits: convergence and niches. The silos of text, audio, and video will cease to be separate and instead will unite as each is deployed on a story-by-story basis. Professional journalism and user-generated content will become intermingled. Content and applications will combine to create powerful information tools for consumers and businesses alike. And all of these powerful tools will be centered on niches, a potent organization of people with similar interests.
The American Heritage Dictionary says that to converge is to “to tend toward or achieve union or a common conclusion or result.” That’s precisely what the New Media Cocktail will contain – different things coming together to make a better whole. Think of it as you would a margarita: many people don’t like tequila or lime juice alone, but combine it together with other ingredients and you have a tasty concoction.
That’s precisely what will happen as old and new media alike recognize the trend towards convergence and begin to better meet the needs of information consumers. By following this principle and seeking to better serve niche audiences, content producers will thrive and prosper.
The Coming Tectonic Shift
Changes of significant magnitude in the media landscape have happened before. The printing press, telegraph, radio, television, cable and satellite TV, and the early World Wide Web have all had game-changing impacts. In that respect, the changing horizon should come neither as a surprise nor be overly troubling to the old media barons.
But the coming media earthquake will register a solid 9.0 on the Richter scale. Like most earthquakes in this country, the current infrastructure can largely handle it and the media creators, distributors, and audience will come out unscathed – shaken, perhaps, but unharmed. Those old media barons who fail to heed the warning and reinforce their aging structures with the best technology available today, may indeed crumble, however. In their place will rise gleaming new structures designed to better serve the needs of their owners and visitors.
The chart below demonstrates the tectonic shift occurring in the current media environment in terms of the percentage of American households taking advantage of the technology. The adoption of computers and the Internet are quickly converging on cable television. As we continue to approach a saturation point, the convergence of the various forms of media will become not only viable, but inevitable.
The New Media Cocktail examines the steps toward convergence and niche media already taking place, while also looking ahead to what the future will look like when these trends develop more fully. By understanding the underlying principles and looking ahead to the future, the appeal of this concoction will become obvious.
Download The New Media Cocktail e-book in its entirety. Next up: Chapter 1 – The Rules of the Media Game Are Changing.