Will the Future of Media Be Media?

The months of June and July 2008 will have seen two major initiatives aimed at bringing the Web 2.0 and publishing industries together — Pubcamp organised by Jed White’s iTechne, and The Future of Media organised by Ross Dawson’s Future Exploration Network. Here in Australia, this is big news, and indicates a significant shift in the business perspective of both groups — clearly there is a need to bridge the gap between what can roughly be described as "New Media" and "Old Media".

But when it comes down to the nitty gritty of how, why and when these bridges are crossed — when it comes to execution — there will be plenty of other entities and industries seeking a seat at the table of this debate. There will be marketers, advertisers and there will be planners, there will be companies large and small. There will be media companies, there will be "new media" companies and there will be agencies. There will be government departments, schools, universities and a wide spectrum of interest groups. And at the far end, perhaps, one or two (thousand) individuals with a vested and personal interest.

Yes, that’s right … the future of media is going to touch each and every one of us. The impact of the shifting balance between new and emergent forms of media and "traditional media" will be far reaching and may, perhaps, change the nature of the business landscape for years to come (of course with the rise and rise of Google, it could be stated that the game has changed irreversibly). But as Alisa Miller points out in this TED talk (vis ShiftedPixels), the media has taken a particular, and distorted view of storytelling in recent times. And, it seems to me, this myopic focus on easily digestible stories, has fuelled the growth of social and new media enterprises — our interests and curiosities have not been sated and we have begun to look elsewhere for those stories.

As Alisa points out, younger Americans know less about the world today than their counterparts 20 years ago. However, this is not an indication of a lack of desire for knowledge — it is the result of the homogenisation and filtering of what is considered "newsworthy". Even the great winner in the new media stakes, Google, can be considered guilty here — with "Google News" also opting for narrow focus storytelling in a broad vision world.

With an ever increasing number of people participating and contributing to emerging forms of media — and an understanding that we, as media consumers spend more time viewing both "traditional" media online as well as new media sources — it is clear that our strategies for engaging with our markets/audiences/consumers require new approaches. It seems that we need to re-think "media" itself — and stop talking about the divides I have reinforced above. Perhaps it is not about "media" but about the people that the "media" want to reach and engage. And if we start thinking about this, if we start putting communities at the heart of our storytelling and engagement strategies, then maybe we can begin to move forward together.

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