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The open media company of the future

Leonard Witt at Public Journalism Network writes: “IBM now has its equivalent of the Media Center’s We Media report, but IBM’s Media and Entertainment 2010 white paper is way more radical in its thinking. It predicts by 2010 we’ll have wide open media, reacting quickly and nimbly in a digital world of micropayments.”

Indeed, it’s an excellent report. But the only thing that makes it radical is the prediction that all of this will happen by 2010 (we think it’s probably closer to 2015). The report has nailed the technological, business and cultural shifts that define the coming years. It’s nice to see the players at IBM identifty audience participation as critical to the future success of media.

Here are some of Len’s excerpts from the 44-page report:

An increasing segment of consumers will be able to compile, program, edit, create and share content; as a result, they will gain more control and become more immersed in media experiences.

The future will see more open, reciprocal relationships and more ways to interact and customize at every point of the media value loop – among brands, creators, suppliers, distributors, delivery systems, customers and “experiencers” of media content.

Consumers will be able to compile, edit, produce, create and broadcast complex content and manipulate huge files from the comfort of their homes and personal budgets. The battle for human attention will remain pitched: innovations will continue to cascade rapidly to market. The glut of choices, channels, brands, traditional media and archival content must now compete with customers’ and consumers’ new enthusiasms for interactive media, on demand scheduling and publishing, and steadily increasing thirst for the rich, interactive experiences digital technologies make possible.

...Media companies must interact with the “hot” new combinations of technology, devices and behaviors that will be unpredictably driven by open markets and a determined sense of user entitlement.

Here is how the paper classifies consumers in the 2010 future: “Media consumers, to varying degrees, will be increasingly involved in the creative process. By 2010, the impacts of new technologies will have sidelined predictable market assumptions, fueling the “I want what I want, when I want it” behavior … Although traditional passive consumption will continue to represent a large market share, digital media’s capabilities will engender new forms of interaction, powerfully compelling media companies to become digitized and responsive, and enabling even traditional consumers to make content more individually meaningful.”

Traditional passive consumers – will choose among media companies’ predictable mass-market offerings, but will use several platforms or flexible viewing schedules with affordable devices. Using digital content management and delivery systems, content providers may make it simple enough for traditionalists to choose different edits of the same content for children or adults.

Contributors – will experiment with more options and more innovative platforms, providing feedback passively through purchase choices and data collection, and actively through suggestions, opt-ins or invitations to participate online.

Producers – will program content and devices that they purchase from multiple sources, making uniquely personalized digital play lists or collections for their own tastes. These tech-savvy users will port content files among a variety of devices, and compile chunks of content from many sources into their own playback formats.

Authors – will utilize Web tools to tailor content to business or personal interests, seeking self-expression or control. Media companies will provide affordable advanced tools to this growing slice of active users, such as special blog (Web log) sites, multiplayer online games, user-group “theaters” or conference centers and downloadable production components – music, cinema and TV samples, streaming video or digital photo illustrations. Users who contribute or interact as producers of their own programming or authors of content will not cease to enjoy passive consumption; they will add new skills and redefine the amount of time they spend enjoying media passively.

Posted on Apr 30, 2004 | 7:53 am EST

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