Today I'm channeling my inner Marshall McLuhan.
You know the guy who said, "The medium is the message," to talk to you about the
decentralization of media.
At the macro level, the airwaves are still controlled by major central powers.
Regulation still reigns, and the Internet, as a central complex system, still exists.
The fact that nearly two-thirds of all advertising revenue still flows through central powers like Google and Facebook
is where, for me, decentralization in media becomes an illusion.
Rather what we have in media is a long-standing
recentralization of mediums, going from centrally controlled print to radio to TV to digital.
We also have had a recentralization of platforms from
newspapers to radios to broadcast to cable to variations on digital like your phone and computer, and now the convergence of streaming and OTT.
The big question now is, "What's the next recentralization of medium and or platform, and how can you take advantage of it, if you can at all?"
The first step is realizing that media is in fact a true plural. What some call transmedia nowadays.
Each piece of content often lives in multiple form factors across print, video, and audio, and
several variations, and is distributed on a multi-platform basis — social, legacy, linear, OTT, whatever it might be.
So the medium has become amorphous. The platforms, fractured.
And the content coming from anyone with a cell phone.
This "pseudo-decentralized" model has led to a business model crisis, one in which media monetization has become absolutely wacky
as platform and format switching have outpaced advertising and audience.
That's why socially distributed models like Little Things and digital ad heavy models like BuzzFeed have failed or are failing.
OTT and streaming platforms like Roku, Hulu, and Netflix
are likely the new convergence point of media and over the mid-term will be where quality content lives, is viewed, and is monetized on
phones, computers, and on TV screens.
But it all feels rather interstitial
until the next true disruption comes along
OTT and streaming is not the same level as say TV supplanting radio.
More, it's like Blu-Ray replacing DVD.
Beyond that, these platforms are still figuring out their monetization model, at scale.
Blockchain-backed technology that allows for UGC to be self-regulated and/o r self-distributed by the market with platforms like Clout, Synereo, or Snip
is interesting, but ultimately highly fallible and too nascent.
Though blockchain can be an effective tool to uncentralize non-western media
where strong censorship plays a role or where false information is pervasive.
This I highly support, but see more as a project than profit.
If true decentralization and media ever occurs and can
disintermediate networks like Google or Facebook and allow direct, unfettered monetization and distribution between creator and audience,
I'm all for it and will be all over it. But I've yet to see a credible competitor that doesn't take a cut.
So, I go back to first principles and place my dollar in the hands of the creators.
One of the things AI hasn't been able to replace yet
is the human mind and its ability to make beautiful and interesting things.
So, as an investor, I urge you to make movies and TV shows.
It's a fun way to lose a dollar, and potentially a great way to make some too. But as for investing in the
decentralization of media, well I'll be the first guy online when the time is right.
It's just not right right now.
For the Karma Network, I'm Neil Edward St. Clair.