Vlogs may never replace watching TV and newspapers may not buckle under the weight of blogs, but as the abyss of choice gets deeper, the move away from main stream media (MSM) as the primary content source will only accelerate. The collective output of erstwhile media consumers on blogs, vlogs, social bookmarking and photo sharing sites, along with a host of new online services, will in the next 5 years replace MSM as the dominant media form. Thats right I said it, in 5 years only aging boomers, people that believe Fox News is news and the “Buba’s” in the “fly over states”, will use MSM as their primary source for news and entertainment. US Media, my very own patent pending, copyrighted trademarked catchphrase, is the term I’m using for all the media that we make, revise or steal that others can then consume, remake, or steal. US Media is vastly superior to MSM in 5 key ways, none of which MSM believes are critical, and its along these axises that US Media will destroy MSM.
1) Wisdom of Individuals
There are roughly 6 billion people on the planet, most of whom are varying degrees of funny, stupid, ignorant, succinct, kind, gentle, creative, boorish, luddite, insightful and verbose. MSM tends to provide a voice to a very narrow band of the available human spectrum, marginalizing all other voices. US Media smashes this myth and opens the spectrum to a much wider array of voices, not just the neatly coiffed, well sanitized “quality product” churned out by MSM. The droll, messy, academic, inaccurate, incisive, pedestrian, scintillating and down right naughty media created by all of us is highly variable in quality. This is a good thing, it increases the probability of getting really great as well as really awful stuff. Its this increase variability that MSM seeks to squash and one of the main reasons its gonna be replaced within 5 years. From the sage musings of Ze Frank to the celebrity skewering at YBF, US Media reflects the full spectrum of human genius and idiocy while MSM is constrained to aping a mediocre professionalism.
Some other wise individuals here and here.
2) Wisdom of Crowds
When it comes to taping into the meme of the masses, or the meme of the mob, Us Media wins hands down. While MSM needs surveys, polls, focus groups and outright guessing to get a sense of the cultural temperature, US Media is a reflection of that temperature. The question at the core of US Media is “What do we think?”, as opposed to the question at the core of MSM which is “What should they think?” US Media excels at reflecting, highlighting and harnessing the wisdom of crowds, while MSM is relegated to attempting to shape it. Services like Technorati, OurMedia, NowPublic, Reddit and Digg are all geared towards harnessing the wisdom of crowds and MSM is left scambling in a vain attempt to aggregate them.
3) Tendency to be Subversive
Where MSM has a tendency to be conformist, US Media has a tendency to be subversive. Using language and methods deemed, inappropriate, unacceptable or undesirable by MSM, US Media introduces a cacophony of voices into what was previously a monolithic one-way conversation. All that MSM couldn’t, wouldn’t or thinks shouldn’t be said is the fodder US Media uses to grow. Whether its offering questions about the veracity of the events surrounding 9/11 or simply reconfiguring the role of consumers in the physical media equation, US Media tends to undermine MSM norms. Every question left unasked, every story left untold, every lie of ommision or commission by MSM hastens its decline into marginalization and irrelevance.
Notable subversion here and here
4) Tendency to be Self-critical
When the tension between the wisdom of crowds and the wisdom individuals is combined with a tendency towards subversion, its makes for a highly self-critical medium. This is the cross that US Media must bear. There are virtually no collective trends or memes that go unchallenged within US Media, and unlike MSM, challengers are on an almost equal footing with the original trend/meme. Wikipedia, YouTube, RocketBoom, Friendster, Myspace, they have all come under sharp critique. Some held fast, some withered, some changed and some kept it moving but they have all met, and continue to meet, the kinds of internal critisms that are simply not present in MSM.
5) We are the Answers
I was trying to think of the right way to phrase the last MSM killer and after a lot of dillerberation (ie staring blanking at the computer screen) it struck me, US Media is the answer to most of the questions MSM is asking right now.
-“How will people consume media in 5 years?”
-“Will they simply watch it or will they use it as part of some other product?”
-“How will bittorrent effect not just what people what but how they watch?”
-What will they pay for and how much will they pay?”
These are all key questions facing the media business and the “they” in these questions is us. US Media whether its original, derivative or appropriated content is the future form of media. The more we do any of these activities the quicker the demise of MSM will come.
PS: I’m pretty sick of the term UGC and so my patent pending copyrighted acryonym of choice from hence fourth shal be, USM:User Socialized Media,or Universal Social Media or User Submitted Media…I need more suggestions.