Everything New Is Old Again

  • Published in General

CC photo / Flickr kennymatic

Tipping points arrive on tip-toe. They don’t crash into our consciousness, they sneak up on us like jewel thieves in a museum at midnight.

Here’s the problem with that: marketers, media executives and content creators alike still talk about digital technology like it just got here yesterday. We’re all still running around trying all these new things, talking about disruption and platforms are popping up everywhere like weed clinics in Los Angeles (or like they used to, anyway) and this just happened and that just happened and you know what?

That’s no way to run a media/marketing/entertainment nexus.

Sure, acceleration is a major consequence of digital technology. But speed is a tactical challenge, not a paradigm shift.

What’s more, one of the things we love to go on about in this brave new interactive world is how we’re all about breaking down silos. This is bullshit. We’re just building one big new silo.

I’m a digital artist! I’m a digital startup! I’m a digital agency! Um, no. You’re an artist, a startup or an agency in a digital culture. The difference is immense.

Here’s a better way: When you settle down and accept that the digital aspects of your personal and professional lives are mundane, not exceptional, that’s where the real change happens.

The online news site Digiday ran a column today where the writer bemoaned the fact that there is no experiential equivalent of a Super Bowl online and that media buyers still use digital media not as brand builders but as ROI accumulators.

On the creative side, of course, there has yet to be any true breakout content that captures the zeitgeist in the way, say, American Idol does (or did). Ten million views of a video with roller-skating babies do not count. Neither does porn, although it is very experiential.

But I digress. The point is there will be an experiential equivalent of a Super Bowl. There will be an online American Idol. A little less bitching and a lot more preparing and you might just be ready when—not if—it happens.

Here’s the thing: we’ve been living la vida electronica for a couple of decades now. The oldest Millennials are over 30.

We don’t live digital lives. We live in a digital culture.

It’s not new anymore.

It just is.

When you understand that, you can stop ruminating about stuff that’s already a foregone conclusion. Like print. Magazines and newspapers aren’t going away, just the paper versions of them.

Done. Finished. Now let’s figure out how to make that work for publishers, writers, editors, designers and readers.

Or television. It’s going to morph with digital, particularly social networks. In fact, it already has. Marketers are going nuts about what they’re calling “social TV.” This is a mash-up that makes perfect sense and it’s only going to deepen.

Done. Finished. Now let’s figure out how to tell a story with moving pictures and sound or sell a product through video content in that reality.

Here’s what we’re building towards: a new kind of mass media—call it the cloud, call it the stream, call it whatever—in which we are all wired, all the time.

When that day dawns, and I doubt it’s more than 20 years out, you won’t know it. It will arrive quietly, on tip-toe. But it will turn your world inside out and upside down.

And if you start getting ready for it now, you’ll win then.


Author

Jack Feuer
Advisory Board, FWD:labs
Bio



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