I haven’t listened to the radio in over a decade. I haven’t really watched television for almost as long. My life has been devoid of advertisements for so long that I cannot even remember what it’s like to have my entertainment interrupted by them.
Streaming music and podcasts have made the radio redundant to me, and some patience combined with the miracle of whole seasons on reasonably priced DVDs and BluRays has done the same for television. I’m sure I am missing out on the proverbial water-cooler talk due to the delay, but Breaking Bad was no worse for unfolding late for me.
And that just accounts for replacement of existing mass-media.
There are a lot more things available that never would have existed before. Although some of the podcasts I listen to are re-“broadcasts” of shows that still run on traditional radio. But many are not. And they aren’t any worse for it.
Nerdist is building a respectable media empire on top of what started as a relatively small podcast. Now it has stars like Tom Hanks, William Shatner and Jon Favreau appearing with startling frequency for very candid conversations. There are people making a full-time income from YouTube channels that they started in their spare time.
And I think we aren’t far away from a transformation of traditional media.
It hasn’t reached the tipping point yet…
All the pieces to make that tip possible are starting to fall in place. As the new media start gaining a following and breaking the grasp of the more traditional models of production and distribution, they will probably try to build their own strangle-hold empires… upstarts turned incumbents always do. But the problem is that this transformation is coming alongside a dramatic lowering of the bar to entry into the field.
If you cannot get any traction through the new incumbents, just roll your own distribution.
After all, it’s all nothing more than hyperlinks from here on in.
Provided nobody breaks the internet. And that’s where Net Neutrality comes in. The fight over neutrality is the last-ditch attempt to create an artificial barrier that cannot be cleared without permission. The fact this insane battle is happening at all is an indication of the desperation of the holders of that last advantage. It’s a tactic only used when there is no other way left to compete. It’s the sign of a dying model.
And it’s all for the better.
We are on the verge of a Cultural Renaissance falling out of the internet.
It’ll be scary for the hoarders and populists, because it is going to be impossible to follow everything and know everything. But “everything” is overrated anyway. All we really need is “interesting”. And there is going to be plenty of that around.