RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Jan 8, 2008

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

George Santayana

Remember the first commercial websites? I mean way back, at the very beginning of web 1.0 — back when we really had no clue what to do with them? They were retreads…simply a translation of an old medium (print) into a new medium (online.) A print advertisement translated into HTML. Actually, those were the good ones. The bad ones were simple scans, that took forever to load, due to the fact that everyone had a 14.4K baud modem. Remember those days? Good times.

Historically, we have a propensity to show a total lack of innovation when it comes to a new medium. We do it all the time. What was the first thing that we put on television? Radio shows. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If we gathered around the radio in the living room to listen to The Lone Ranger, it only makes sense that we’d want to watch the cast and crew act it out in front of a camera, right? And don’t forget to zoom in on the Foley artist clapping coconut shells against a concrete slab to simulate horses hooves. They’ll really like that!

Whenever we are faced with a new medium, we always try a translation first. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We just need to remember the following rule:

“A new medium deserves new content.”

We need to take the unique qualities/possibilities of each new medium and use them accordingly. Each has a sweet-spot, something unique compared with the old medium. For the web, it was interactivity through the hyperlink. For film and television, it was the ability to tell visual stories. What is unique about our “New Media” technologies?

There are some innovators who are showing us the way. Those who are showing us how powerful their blenders are by grinding up an iPhone. Those who are making entertaining and educational presentations using nothing more than a camera, paper cut-outs and some thread. Those who are mashing up data and providing innovative ways of visualizing web data.

“A new medium deserves new content.”

What new content will your company create? How will you, as the New Media Evangelist, use the unique qualities of this new media to better tell your company’s story, to better connect with your customers, or to provide them with a service that was totally impossible before the arrival of these new technologies?

Until we answer these questions, companies will still be recording talking heads in front of perfectly lit studio walls. We’ll still be trying to squeeze entire PowerPoint presentations, designed for a big screen, into 320×240 pixels. Until we answer these questions, we’ll never reach the full potential of our New Media.

The good news is that we eventually will. And when we look back on it, we’ll laugh at how foolish we were. And we’ll end up saying the same things that we say now:

“Why couldn’t I have seen that? It seems so obvious.”

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