Saturday, 29 March 2008

EveryAktoMan: Reprise to John Hee

John Hee recently wrote his state of the nation post, 2008: Blogs & the 'traditional' press (Part 1)

I haven't researched this piece, but what the heck, here goes anyway. I see the future for all media to be in the "on demand" mode. If you think why we read, watch, listen to media - it is to be entertained, educated and enlightened.

  • News articles: up to date information. Well, magazines are dated by the nature of their timeline.
  • News exclusives: contacts can be used to dig around for an exclusive article.
  • In depth articles: these take a while to compile and ...
  • Reviews: more chance of getting freebies for review, and for labs and scientific testing of gear.

I think that online media is good for some of it, or enhancing static media (eg. print) with multimedia. Far quicker and cheaper to post video online than to press dvds for inclusion with a magazine.

Humans are social animals. We like to communicate, to discuss, to argue our points and to make up afterwards. I still think that current online media (blogs, forums, chat rooms) are static. They replace the printed word with ... well, the printed word.

Some content providers/magazines, eg.  Trail and TGO are providing multimedia feeds and ways to communicate with journalists and authors. We see that on TV too. You know the sort of programme: "if you are affected by the issues in tonight's episode of Songs of Praise, please go to our website where Aled Jones will be available to sing to you". Online forums offer reviews by staffers and users, who also generate content.

Humans fickle though. At what point do the users who generate content realise that they are as important to the online entity of the 'magazine' as the staffers. At what point do the über-users get tired of chances to win at competitions and start to demand financial rewards? Will this happen in flickr and youtube? We see TV shows made of clips from sites - are their creators getting financial benefits, or does the small print from the video host say otherwise.

Humans have limited time and unlimited imaginations. We like learning, playing, thinking, poking at ant-hills with sticks. Are you up to date with your podcast listening? I amn't. Nor am I up to date with my blog reading. Nor forum reads. And my recorder is getting full. My book collection grows, along with dvds, and magazine articles that I'll return to.

But at least with printed media that I own, I can pick it up and read it when I choose. Or play it on my dvd player. I don't see the same being true of the transient timeline based media of blogs and forums. Granted the texts are still in the archives, but reading a review by a trusted reviewer in a magazine will give you more return on your invested time than if you search through the Net.

I heard a quote recently. A book is like a shark. Sharks have been around for millions of years, because there is nothing better at being a shark than a shark. There is nothing better at being a book than a book.

Magazines are an expensive way to buy information. You are buying many serialised books. You are buying the knowledge, time and journalistic tenaciousness of the writers. I have yet to see that repeated monthly online. Anywhere.

On demand is great. I can choose where I read a magazine on the loo or what book I pack with me on holiday or what I fill my iPod with for the journey to work. Who provides me with the content - the media companies. These companies can churn out the surprising news, the great article that I would never have searched for online. I demand this. I demand to be entertained, educated and enlightened. If you fail, I go elsewhere. My needs and wants keep on changing.

Do I care that circulation figures for certain magazines are dropping? No. Will an increase in price stop me from renewing my subscriptions? Yes, of course. Do I care is a magazine has 3 times as many online readers of its forum than purchasers of its magazine? Yes, as it may be affecting the price of the magazine.

These are interesting times for the media. It has a new communications system to deal with. The telegraph, radio, television, and now the Internet. Gosh, it's only been around for generations and now people are getting to grips with the new threats and opportunities.

Like all businesses, media is affected by the growth in social networking. This Web2.0 thingamyjig that's being bandied about. It is, however, undemocratic and can often be ignored. We are social animals, but we have limited time. This is why we demand to be fed regularly with our RDA of entertainment, education and enlightenment. Where the outdoors fits into this depends on the individual.

To the media types out there: good luck. I'm off to bed to read a book. It was printed in 1930. I bumped into it by accident in a sale a few years back. It is only now that I got round to reading it, mainly to to a lateral interest in the subject via a hobby project. The author was fictionalising events from The Great War. I'd never have picked up his work if he'd written them in a magazine over months, or on a forum or blog, or recited in a podcast or video feed. If I can't empathise with the world being described by the author, then I am not a sentient human being.

The state of the magazine world - "changeable". And I haven't even mentioned the number of Freeview channels yet!


Anonymous said...

don't bother with Freeview (unless you like Police Camera Action [why do they always fuzz the face of the guy who has just smashed up umpteen cars] )try google video instead

The Solitary Walker said...

Or, as Gertrude Stein said, "A rose is a rose is a rose".

Yes, a book is perfection, isn't it? That's why it's lasted so long and will endure. God bless those Celtic monks, Gutenberg and Jeffrey Archer.

John Hee said...

Here,here for the book. Ever tried to curl up with a good DVD? Do it once and fling it in a corner for a few years. Now a book will be cherished and often reread or referred to. And the technology lasts ulike many of thenew items coming along (VHS tape anyone?)

Podcasts provide on demand entertainment compatable with doing other things (walking lets say) Ditto audio enactments, rather than pure read-a-book offerings.

And as for on-line reading etc. I think the expansion of mobile phones/always-on net access will change the demand-pull culture, but why do I always get a distinct feeling its a sort of sad way to get such stuff? (cue The Geek in the pub with a laptop)

Horses for courses. A book is tactile and requires focus and a relationship. Audio is more a shared experience (i.e. multi task)but still requires that personal relationship.
But mobile/net stuff, taken away from in front of its delivery mechanism of the pc is a social dividor.
When's the last time you had a face to face conversation interrupted by someone taking a call or getting/sending txts?
As always, its not the mechanism but the message that ultimately determines value.
BTW - Part 2 up later today(Sat)

AktoMan said...

Magazines are in that difficult divide between books and news. I saw Trail today when I got back and think it is handling the change well. Good luck to it.

Alan Sloman said...

Historians treasure newspapers - the ephemeral; what people actually are thinking at the time rather then what they think with hindsight.

The blog is a little like newspapers but with a very special narrow interest.

I like to think of past posts on my blog as discarded newspapers; their latest incarnation, holding today's portion of chips.

Everybody likes a good newspaper, but it should only be historians who are interested in yesterday's news.