For those who’ve been around before the dot-com crash, you’ve probably remember those first days, with portals, vortals and the whole remediation of mass media to the web was dominant. Brochureware (brochures repurposed as websites) and directories were abundant and brands began a gold race to a different medium, expecting the masses would follow along.
That didn’t work, as McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” was mostly fit for a broadcast age. Enter the Cluetrain Manifesto, Tim O’Reilly’s web 2.0 and a new conversation age: from mass media to social media.
With this new communication paradigm, people shape the medium: from Twitter lingo to collaborative platforms, media became social, with many online citizens entering the conversation.
Photo by purplemattfish CC BY-ND 2.0
Paper.li, The Daily, Flipboard or even your regular iGoogle are the first wave of personal media, with users and algorithms adjusting the media stream. These new personal media platforms draw upon mass media and social media (our social graph to be more precise) and combine them to create personal dashboards with our own set of preferred media.
We’ve come a long way, from blogs to new forms of publishing such as Storify. To truly become the media, both producing and curating our own content, a new kind of service that adjusts the output to our media habits should appear.
Update: it’s rather telling than one of the few ways of making something go viral is to make it personalized. From Elf Yourself to Uniqlo’s UTweet, there’s plenty to choose from.
The question these days is: will it come from Facebook or from Google? Considering that we’ve been crossing the media the past decade, I for one would appreciate that publishers took the lead. Both the Guardian and the New York Times have been brave enough to experiment, but considering the mass media potential for online video and the upcoming TV platforms, i wouldn’t be surprised if some major network decides to take a radical leap for the next decade. If they don’t, Google will disrupt as usual.
Personal media and the platforms to aggregate/create it are worthy of more attention than the social media echo chamber. Yes, we’re social beings. But we’re also individuals, searching for better ways to cope with our desires, interests and yes, media. And as we cross our media, we atomize it: more personal, smaller but always part of a bigger system. So, where’s my media microscope?