Sunday 30 March 2008

Bridging Media

I haven't posted anything hackishery in a while, so here we go.. Yesterday I attended Bridging Media, my super sekret invite was secured through a friend of mine, Erica, who happened to be co-running the event. A very successful event. Hats off to Erica and the whole organizing crew! I'd signup for another one in a heartbeat.

There's not a lot for me to say about this crowd, they're media folks who are trying to figure out this whole internet and technology thing. They want to distribute their content (and hopefully make money) using a medium that hasn't been deprecated in the eyes of geeks since 1997. Several of these adventurers (Boris and Catherine, that I met) have immersed themselves in this world and expertly know their way around. There were some pretty cool ideas floating around, some of which I wish we (the tech/geek community) had thought of 10 years ago. But................ But.................. (and for emphasis, a few more dots to build suspense)......................


I lived through the .com era, I was IN SILICON VALLEY when the whole thing came crashing down. I heard Alan Greenspan tell everyone it was going to come crashing down, and he was going to pull the trigger. Noone listened. I see the same thing happening all over again with this digital media community. At least, this is my fear.

They talked about getting money to finance their projects, and pushing ads to "eyeballs" as a continuous income stream. They talked about subscription models for income. We heard people pitch their companies that do "microfunding", and how you could buy a small part of a production to help it along.


We went through this 10 years ago in tech. IT DOESN'T WORK. Adblockers effectively remove ALL ADVERTISEMENTS from a webpage. Google ads work because of their size and because their ads are non-invasive, but all those little ad companies that used to pay for display, or pay per click, Gone. Popups, popunders, and forcing content infront of the user are on their way out.

"Microfunding" and buying small parts of a production is great in theory, but here's the slippery slope: Eventually someone will say "Hey! If we invent parts for people to buy, we can give them away, and pay people in parts of the company instead of real money". I believe that's called "stock". Someone made the comment that it's the geeks that try everything, and it's the stuff that sticks that is disseminated to the general populous. Unfortunately the stuff that doesn't stick isn't well known.

Before you think your new idea is going to take off like a bottlerocket, do some research, have a look at what tech tried 10 years ago. Specifically, look at what didn't work. How many trials did Edison's light bulb take? And how many of those failed trials do we know?

With a little research effort, maybe this time Alan Greenspan like figure won't have to trigger an avalanche just to stop a snowball.


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