The Future of Media?

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Information about The Future of Media?

Published on October 30, 2007

Author: nbrier



In May I went out to speak at University of Montana on the future of media. Rather than prognosticate, I talked about what made today's media different than yesterdays (mainly network theory). Download the pdf at



media technology culture marketing

everything communicates there is a better way people are your partners start with the problem, not the solution

my approach

the medium is the message

the web

links are fundamental

complex network

few many sites few sites with with a moderate sites with a few links number of links many links

are social networks equally distributed?

so far, so good?

power law

before the web we lacked a map

Why did we have to wait until 1999 to discover the impact of hubs and power laws on the behavior of complex networks? The answer is simple: We lacked a map. The few network maps available for study before the late 1990s had a few hundred nodes at most. The enormous World Wide Web offered the first chance to examine the intricate anatomy of large complex systems and established the presence of power laws. As other large maps followed, we gradually understood that most networks of practical interest, from the language to the sex web, are shaped by the same universal laws and therefore share the same hub-dominated architecture.

a network

how about the real world, noah?

social networking

professional networks

better marketing

neural networks

truth = network

trend truth you can find entertainment on new screens three minutes is the ideal time for your shortened attention span if he can look like an idiot and get millions to watch, so can i

end of part 1

beginning of part 2

Horizontal Media in a Vertical World 1 • All of a sudden digital media comes along and starts to screw things up. It doesn't know boundaries. The figurative and literal walls between departments are of little use when it comes to digital technology. • If companies are traditionally structured vertically (silos) then the web is a horizontal medium, cutting across the business. • Communications no longer belong to a specific channel or silo since nearly all become digitally encoded at some point in their life, allowing them to travel seamlessly around the corporation without worry for the havoc they're wreaking.

No More Campaigns 2 • In another era, you ran a campaign around a specific time (say Christmas), but in Google's world, where you only pay for clicks (aka leads), it's silly to think that way. A lead in March is worth the same as a lead in December, so why aren't you running your ads all year long? • The website of the future may not be a flash- filled affair that broadcasts the brands position to its customers, but might instead be a search box with mountains of content sitting behind it that allows people to find the thing within the brand that resonates most with them. It's idiocentricity at its finest.

Life Lessons of Open Source 3 • Product = Free, Support = $$$ • Open source support on the other hand, is paying to keep something running that costs nothing. Using our current understanding as a consumer, it's hard to justify. Why pay for support on something that's free to begin with? How is it worth it? • The reason open source companies who exist on paid support will struggle is exactly the same reason they will succeed. We have trouble seeing value in something that costs nothing, despite the fact that it's obviously worth more than that. We as humans are not very good at separating cost and worth, at least not at the moment.

Brainstorming “M Curve” 4

Creating an Innovative Environment 5 • Create a place where people want to bring great ideas: One option is Google's 20 percent time, where you give you engineers the flexibility to follow their passions for 1/5 of their week. • Teach people how to think better: That way instead of relying on a limited few in some R&D lab, you can open up the process. In turn you will create more value for both the company and the employees. • “Yes, but you’ve got to distinguish between what I’m talking about and what George Soros is trying to do. Soros uses his money to push his views. I’d be more inclined to use my money to give people the ability to make up their own minds and express themselves.” - Mike Bloomberg

Trust, Brands and Transparency 6 • Brands are reputations: A company uses its brand as collateral when it tries to get you to buy its products. • Branding and marketing developed as a way to help consumers know what was reliable. What's new is: There's less differentiation than ever before, the store has taken on much of the trust burden, customers are far more savvy about marketing than we once were and price comparison tools have shifted the power. • Brand relationships traditionally exist at the 100 or 1,000 foot level. Personal relationships exist at the one or ten foot level. That's because personal connections build reputation: There's more on the line when you know someone's name, number and their kid's birthday. Transparency helps bring brand relationships to this level.

Attention-casting 7 • We now have tools to broadcast our attention. As a result, attention is now media. • I am broadcasting my movies to friends through Netflix, my music through and my clickstream through Root. • Blogs are so revolutionary because it's a fairly unfiltered look at people. Linklogs are even less filtered because they contain the ideas behind the ideas. Now imagine if I exposed every click to you, now you know the path behind the ideas that make the ideas.

Baking Marketing into Products 8 • There's a big opportunity for marketing agencies to enter the product development cycle earlier. The end goal would be to bake the marketing right into the product. • When you embed marketing into the product not only do you give the customer something better, but you also save yourself money on advertising. That's because great experiences are contagious and contagious marketing leads to viral results. • Part of baking marketing into products is about collaboration. Design, engineering, marketing and sales need to be working together to achieve lofty status

Reach vs. Influence 9 • The wonder of the internet to me is the ability to have low-reach, high-influence. In an old media world, such a thing is not overly scalable, but online its an efficient and very real occurrence. • For someone like myself, there's no incentive to trying to appeal to a broader audience. People come here for a very specific reason and if I tried to write on more general things I'd probably attract no one at all. • Go deep, not wide.

Niche Choices are More Meaningful 10 • Niche choices provide a whole lot more insight than mass ones. • When a person makes a conscious decision to consume something niche it says much more about their taste than a mass artist/movie/ etc. • The best recommendations come from niche choices (Amazon,, etc.) • In order to compare niche choices effectively you must have scale.

Insignificantly Interesting 11 • quot;Old media is begging for attention. New media is attention.quot; • quot;'The Real World' went from exploring how to get your adulthood started . . . to a recurring drama of sloth, ill tempers, wasted days and wasted nights. 'Real World' producers quickly surmised that people prefer to watch other people do nothing with their immediate futures.quot; - Hank Steuver (Washington Post) • We are becoming the media and the media is becoming us. One is not taking over the other, they are just converging to become a single entity. Blogging doesn't spell the end of journalism, it spells a new beginning.

Marketing 2.0 12 • Unbundled media is a trend we will increasingly see where people consume media in bite-sized chunks rather than the 30-minute show or album that once supported big media companies. • Whether it's newspaper articles republished on blogs or television shows downloaded with BitTorrent, the perfect little bundle is being unraveled and it's going to have big effects on media companies and the advertisers that pay their bills. • “Aggregators are promoting a shift in the control of content. They’re challenging the idea . . . that users must view things in the way we prescribe, and that our hierarchy is best to present our content.” - Joshua Porter

A Call for Unbundling 13 • What needs to happen first is an inventory. What pieces are held and what value do they have. This is a general inventory, like ticking off TV station in New York, newspaper in Chicago. This is a specific inventory: Sports writer in Chicago, prime time show in New York. It's about finding the smallest pieces of value. After an inventory it's time to start assigning values and considering alternate forms of distribution. That's sports writer may hold value in more arenas than just his daily newspaper column. What other ways can you leverage his expertise to add revenue. Is it a text-message service for sports fans? A fantasy football consultation service? Media doesn't mean newspaper/magazine/ television/radio anymore: It's any information/communication vehicle.

Why Curation is Better Than Filtering 14 • Curation is what separates humans from computers: In the future computers will filter and humans will curate. While the computer will help and be fairly accurate, it won't know the audience well enough to recommend a far out story that doesn't fit in the algorithm.


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