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It’s in the way that you use it July 13, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, industry news, web 2.0, work/life.
New media trumps the old guard

New media trumps the old guard

In thinking about switching jobs recently, one move that was suggested to me by a few people a sought advice from was to get into bed with companies in traditional media (in order to further the night job). I didn’t go for it though, I didn’t even breathe in that direction, largely because I don’t believe traditional media is going to get any of us where we need to go. Blame it on too much time spent playing video games if you want, but I don’t like media I can’t engage in and interact with, a steadfast rule, the only exception coming in the form of Saturday afternoon, a magazine or newspaper, and my couch.

Music, movies and publishing are all such behemoths taking in so many stakeholders that they’re all 5 to 10 years behind their markets (markets being conversations, conversations occurring between the people who buy or engage with their products – or used to any way). For the most part, the people with the power to affect change in those industries won’t listen to reason, and so the gradual decline continues.

While comfortable with my decision, we all seek vindication for the choices we make, and it arrived from one of my favourite sources. Readers joining from Wide Open Spaces would be familiar with Umair Haque, I’ve mentioned him a few times. Fresh into my reader comes a post from him talking about digital media’s cannibalisation of traditional media, and how slow they’re being to react.

…unless media owners, advertisers, and, yes, agencies get together to engage in meaningful business model and strategic innovation, old business models – especially those dominated by brands – will continue to be “cannibalized” by this shift in consumer behaviour, because consumers are too busy talking to each other to pay much attention to industrial-era brands.

This only serves to re-inforce a talk I saw JJ Abrams give (last night form the comfort of my kitchen as I cooked), talking about how the barrier to entry into creating entertainment is increasingly lower and lower. Abrams is a great speaker and very engaging, his talk is entertaining but also poignant and very, very timely.

Happy Monday everyone, and welcome aboard.

Image courtesy of ktommy, with thanks to compfight.


1. Julian Cole - July 14, 2008

Hey Dave, you have taken all the ideas out of my head and put them in a post. I was just wondering what industries you thought were not 5 to 10 years behind (as opposed to music, movies and publishing)?

2. David Gillespie - July 14, 2008

For starters, you have more ideas in your thumbnail than I have in my whole body, so you’re lying =] I suppose I should also qualify the above statement by flagging the folk who are trailing as being from the typical big fish (the major labels, the big studios & TV networks, the traditional media folk when it comes to publishing).

I think Penguin (books) have made some fascinating moves towards digital content, I’ll try and get Scott Drummond over here to shed some more light on their efforts as he is really across it.

Obviously iTunes has taken the music retail business almost overnight, their model is similar in a lot of ways to what Valve Software did with their Steam service – digital content delivery, in this case games.

In Valve’s case, it seeks to circumvent a lot of the piracy traditionally rampant in the games industry by making even a single player experience something that talks to a central server. Yes you run into problems when you’re offline, but Valve’s core audience are serious gamers, the vast majority of which would be connected 24/7.

The trick comes in the media you’re engaging with; games invariably require either a PC or a chunky piece of hardware under your TV; music, movies and yes even text simply require a screen (in music;s case not even that), so portability and ways to achieve that are key. If we fast forward a few years to a time when everyone has cheap unfettered, unlimited data plans on their mobiles, then something like Steam becomes viable for music and movie content delivery. Mind you that is still reliant on a subscription model working in those industries, which I struggle to see.

Back to your original question though, I’d look at what the games industry is moving to, particularly Steam and see if there were some parallels to draw. In fact, I might just do that =]

Now, to get Scotland…

3. MarketingMag - July 14, 2008

Hey Dave/Julian,

just to pick up on Dave’s point about Penguin books, their most recent online project is an interesting take on the thorny subject of digital literature and the future evolution of the printed word:


The project saw Penguin challenge six of its top authors to create new forms of story – designed specially for the internet. The new stories were based on six classic works of literature, and saw tales told using Google Maps, LiveJournal blogs, Twitter, user-generated content (UGC), live streaming and 2D visual navigation.

Take time to explore the stories – some require more engagement than others. Others are less Borgesian generative texts (go here, here and here if you want to learn more) and resemble textual walled gardens with interesting narrative platforms that are less genuinely generative.

In relation to your comments Dave, I would say that the Penguin initiative is less truly ground-shaking and more curious and interesting. In many ways, the Kindle is equally as interesting, because it is really the first commercially viable product designed to offer an alternative tot he printed page.

Or the kinds of online/offline scavenger hunt realtime narratives that Sheffield’s Blast Theory group. That challenges the storytelling mode and takes it back to the notion of performance – something closely tied to the oral histories that were the foundations of narrative.

If you want an analogy here, you might link this move back to the oral tradition to the parrallel move of musicians back to the live performance model (a la Madonna etc and their moves to touring companies). Ultimately, however compelling, the promise of a text that is alive, or evolving as we exist with it, will always be more vital than a bound volume. Just check out the i ching or the Garden of Forked Paths (see link above).

Anyway, enough ramblings from me.

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