Friends o Blogcritics Dan Gillmor and Doc Searls arrive at similar views of the transformation of consumers into producers made possible by technology. Gillmor:
- During Super Bowl week later this month, a political advertisement will air on some TV stations. That’s no big surprise, given that the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary are about to kick off voting in the 2004 presidential nominating race.
But this particular commercial wasn’t made by a high-powered ad agency for a well-funded candidate. The ad, to be selected from 15 finalists in the “Bush in 30 Seconds” contest sponsored by MoveOn.org, was created by an individual or a small team of regular people.
The competition finalists are citizen-activists, and their work is just one more public demonstration of a still underappreciated evolution. Personal technology is undermining the broadcast culture of the late 20th century. It’s putting tools that were once the preserve of Big Media into the hands of the many.
The broadcast culture assumes that most of us are “consumers” of mass media. We are merely receptacles for what Hollywood, the music industry and even our local daily newspaper decide we should view, hear or read.
The post-broadcast culture is a democratization of media, and it comes at things from the opposite stance. It says that anyone also can be a creator, not just a consumer. There’s a world of difference.
….Print has moved the furthest. Not only can people create Web sites with relatively little effort compared with what it used to take, we now have tools that make it almost as easy to write on the Web as read from it. Weblogs, in particular, show what can happen when the readers become writers — spurring on a vast global conversation.
Music has made enormous strides, but digital music products have not been easy to use for the most part. That’s why I’m so intrigued by GarageBand, a piece of software Apple Computer will start selling this week.
If GarageBand is as excellent as it looked when it was announced last week, it will bring music-making to a new crew of people, and to a new level of user-friendliness.
Video, too, is getting easier to produce, and the equipment you need to make good-quality videos is getting downright affordable.
….Smarter folks will understand the enormous opportunity it represents. They can start listening, really listening, to what people are saying. And they can dip into the vast pool of creative talent that exists outside the usual channels.
If I were running a political campaign of any size, I would be asking my candidate’s supporters to send in their best ideas and home-brew advertisements. Campaigns already are starting to converse with and listen better to their supporters, via Weblogs and other media.
Searls writing from Macworld:
- The first clue came when Steve Jobs dropped a line about how much he and Apple “love music”. Other clues came when he talked about the iTunes music store, which clearly is challenging the established way of doing things in the music industry. Still more clues came when he showed off enhancements to iDVD, which makes producing DVDs exceptionally easy. But the picture finally became clear when he spent an almost unbearably long time showing off a new application called GarageBand, “an anytime, anywhere recording studio packed with hundreds of instruments and a recording engineer or two for good measure”. For the first time I saw that this isn’t simply a technical or marketing hack–it’s an economic one.
It’s easy to say that what Apple’s doing here is about marketing. But it’s not, even though clever marketing is involved. See, marketing is about influencing markets. It’s about spin. In the mass-market millieu where Apple lives, it’s about maintaining the fully saturated Matrix-like habitat we call Consumer Culture. That culture was built by those who own and control the means of production. So, what we call “consumer electronics” is really producer electronics. It isn’t about what you and I invent and contribute to the marketplace. It’s about what Sony and Panasonic and Nikon and Canon produce and distribute through retailers for us, the mass market, to consume constantly. It’s producerism, really. As a label, “consumerism” is a red herring. Talking about “consumerism” takes the conversation off into victimville, where the poor consumer needs to get better stuff and less abuse from the big bad producer.
Apple is giving consumers tools that make them producers. This practice radically transform both the marketplace and the economy that thrives on it.
….Want to see results? Check out Bush in 30 Seconds, by MoveOn.org, the left-wing, grass-roots issue advocacy organization. These are first-rate TV ads produced mostly by amateurs, in a short period of time. Regardless of your politics, you have to agree that they’re equal in quality to anything put out by a high-priced agency or production house.
We’re seeing the same thing happening in journalism, with weblogs like those powered by Rael’s Blosxom, and the music business, with Magnatune, subject of a big piece in this month’s Linux Journal). Soon we’ll see it in movies. How long before some low-budget, high-quality movie becomes a huge hit on DVD without any help from Hollywood? How long before Apple starts a movie store? How long before Disney buys Pixar, like Apple bought NeXT, and Steve Jobs takes over Disney? (Trust me, it’s a good bet.) Then what?
….What Apple’s doing with “i” apps like GarageBand isn’t about the computer industry; it’s about the entertainment industry. That industry lately has become vigilant about threats from its customers, which it still thinks of as consumers. Instead it should be watching how Apple transforms those consumers into producers. Because the next challenge will be finding ways to turn those producers into partners. The old gig is up. They’ll never be just “consumers” again. [Linux Journal]
All aspects of this revolution touch upon us here: we are all availing ourselves of instant worldwide self-publishing made possible by the Internet to create, read, and interact on Blogcritics and the blogs of all our writers and readers. Unlike the traditional print media, blogs are a dialogue rather than a lecture. In addition we have writers and readers who are using new digital tools to create and distribute music and video. With freedom comes responsibility and the kind of disruption that currently has the recording, and to a lesser extent, film industries in such a lather.