Sunday, January 6, 2008


Robin Sloan's EPIC video is still a goosebumps tale for me.

Aimed to provoke(thought) and incite(participation), it remains one of the few works that first heralded the idea that media, in the 21st century, will not remain the same.
Modern media has already gone through a family of evolutions to arrive in its present day state, from the local town-crier(and I'm being generous with my use of 'modern'..), to and

EPIC was a not-so-gentle reminder that what we see today isn't the future. The future is around the corner, and it's a beautiful evolution in sight that will surely transform our lives, positively, and in proportions we couldn't have imagined a few years ago.

So why is there such a huge resistance to this particular evolution? Why the initial hue and cry over Google News? Why the utterly archaic positioning of the music recording industry? Why is there only a YOU-Tube, and not a Holly/Bolly/Lolly-Tube? Why is Scott Karp telling journalists to change or die?

The answer, dear friends, is blowing in the winds. It's decentralization, and it's happening to each and every one of us.

For years, we(corporations) have sought to build our fortunes in feudal style, building castles, then expanding territorially, and finding ways to reap the benefits of occupation everywhere we went.
Of course, competition sprung up every now and then, but they were, for the most part regarded as battles won or lost. The few wars that come to mind(PC-Mac, Open source- Closed source, the browser wars, the format wars) all were drawn out for way too long for any serious impact to bottom-line.
And our focus always remained on the 'core'. It was always about the 'core' value proposition, our 'core' business interests, our 'core' market strategy, the 'core' of our being.....until Chris Anderson came along and told us that the core, as we know it, has shifted. It's now borderline stupid to have a 'head' office, because the consumers are going for the tail....which is a lot closer and accessible to them than the head.

And if we'd listened, we'd have heard the basic complaint that the 'head' was full of it.
Edward R. Murrow: "Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the classroom."

I think we screwed up pretty bad.

Because very simply...everything has changed. Literally...everything. And it totally sucks that we're not ready for it because we ought to have been, and our indolence is costing us precious years of potential incubation.

I don't watch TV, but I watch video on the Internet. I don't look at ABC news or the Times of India directly....instead, I'm reading my personalized Google News. I don't write newspaper columns...I blog. I don't cut out interesting clippings and save them on my wall- I add them to can never get the dots right...), share them via e-mail, and create my own RSS feeds.

I flag media that I find to be out of place/context. I add tags that make things more relevant for the next person. I willingly submit my usage information so I can receive better recommendations in real time.
And I know privacy is a huge subject in some circles, but you know what...I couldn't give a s**t, because as long as efficiency is delivered to me, no human being is prying into my personal life, and I have the option to opt IN to personalized services, I have absolutely no beef with personalization.

In fact, for all the hue and cry we make about'We want democracy', we can get pretty sour about the democracy *needing* us.

Anyway, so I don't buy CDs online any more, and instead download from iTunes. I can't remember the last time I walked into a Blockbuster to rent a movie since Netflix came along, and I do a bunch of other things that tell you one thing....EVERYTHING has changed.

With these changes, naturally, should change the economics that will help us monetize these changes. It is, after all, a marketplace we're talking about, and yes, it's evolving, but at the end of the day, we're still talking about goods, services, money, and trade.

But, we need to talk about it all a little differently now. And talk differently we will.. in '08.