July 18, 2005

Internet media gathering...er, steam 

Is this what the new media revolution looks like, finally? We've heard plenty of hype about how the Internet will change all the rules about [insert category or industry here]. But it hasn't quite made it over the revolutionary threshold, even though it has evolved into something that is transforming our lives in many ways. The impact of the Internet is already deep, we just haven't seen and heard the Big Bang that would launch a new Internet universe. The Internet has added great features and utilities to our previous media constellations. But to be a revolution, it has to actually overthrow something. So along comes this little thing called the Open Media Network (http://www.omn.org/) and it might just do the trick. If they can get the client to work right. If they can get media producers and public broadcasting stations to publish to it. If they can get an audience to download and install their client. If all that happens, those of us interested in bypassing the entrenched, moribund, paternalistic, and generally pathetic "news media" proferred by the corporate entertainment/profit centers might finally have a major return on the prayers we've invested in the Internet. For now we hedge our bets and suggest a few "What Ifs?": What if you could get a full range of news and public affairs media without all the hype, packaging, spin, commercialism, and annoying self-promotion that clutter up the coverage from the "major news networks"? What if you could go beyond packaged reporting and get the source video, audio, images, documents, and interviews from which stories are produced? What if you could have instant access to the widest range of perspectives (and not just the extremes) so you could discover what real people think (and not just the pundits and spin professionals)? What if you could compare feedback and ratings on sources of news and information with thousands of other informed users, who also have credibility ratings based on thousands of other informed users? What if you could easily contribute news and information, including produced pieces and raw material, to help build a global network of free media for the benefit of an informed global community? What's happening is since iPodder proved that people are willing to bypass the "mainstream media" to get what they need and want, the bandwagon has been boarded. On June 28th Apple released iTunes version 4.9 which includes a podcasting utility. This might be the tip of the tipping point. Regardless of how quickly it becomes obvious, the on-demand media revolution has been launched. Even the "major networks" seem to dimly grok this. But just look at poor CNN, which today announced it would offer a "premium broadband service in a move to remake the digital space and offer viewers unprecedented control over their news." It still believes we'll pay for their version of reality, rather than discovering our own for free. Cue the Gil Scott Heron quote please.

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