There’s a great quote I came across this week from 1995 where Clifford Stoll, a Newsweek columnists, dismisses the internet as a fad.
Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities.
Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense?
The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works. [Daily Beast]
16 years later, I’m sure Mr Stoll would have a very different take on things.
We can’t judge the future with what we know now. We can’t apply the models of today to what will happen tomorrow. Kids going to school today are being trained for jobs that don’t exist yet. We have to look to the past, look at the present and then try to connect a line of trends to see the future.
LOOK AT YOUR KIDS
The way I consume news is changing. I’ve had an iPad for about 15 months now and it’s how I read a lot of my newspapers. I have apps for Metro, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post alongside aggregators like Zite and Flipboard. Where newspaper websites used to be clunky and hard to scan, the apps are becoming focussed and the information more easily sorted.
Where I used to enjoy a Sunday morning coffee while browsing a broadsheet, I can now have the same mind feeding experience with my tablet. And it’s easy. My habit has changed after little more than a year with the device.
Can you imagine how a lifetime of interaction will change media?
My sons are 4 and 2. They navigate an iPad and iPhone with ease. Charlie can’t read, yet he knows where the buttons are and can swipe between movies and books and games naturally.
To know this is the future, you just need to watch a child trying to make a magazine work like an iPad.
With my habits changing, and my sons’ habits already changed, I say print media have about half a generation left to figure out how to do things differently. In the next 10-15 years, print will be dead.
BOOKS ARE DYING
And it’s not just the big form factor reading devices that are biting into the market, phones are doing it too.
Steve Jobs‘ biography is easily the most read book of the fall and while some may prefer to carry it as a status symbol of their belonging to the Cult of Mac, others are just reading it however they can.
Walter Isaacson‘s book on Jobs is 352 pages in physical form. I can’t imagine how many thumb swipes Joel had to do to get through that on a 3.5 inch screen, 80 words at a time.
If the medium is the message, as McLuhan once said, then the message is, simply, change.
Everything is “with” not “instead of”. It’s stupid to think that Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc… I love magazines. I love the content, design, look and feel (and yes, even the advertising), but there is no doubt that the magazine industry is going through tremendous change and flux. [Twist Image]
Old media companies can continue to pump out their message, in fact we need the expertise of professional media companies to curate and create the content, but their models of delivery need to shift.
IT WILL BE FOR THE COLLECTORS
When I say “print is dead“, I don’t mean it will become extinct, I mean more it will become obsolete, saved for the collectors. For the archivists. For the hipsters.
Vinyl is dead, but it is still around in a very niche way – and that’s how print will be treated. There may still be a few dozen print magazines, The big mainstream titles may have the ability to survive, but the rest of our news will move to the cloud. It will be online, it will be everywhere, it will be mobile.
And it makes sense. Music has moved from vinyl to 8 track to cassette to disc to cloud. Each step making it more portable.
Side-Line Music Magazine turned heads last week when it reported that the major record labels plan to abandon the CD by the end of next year — if not sooner.
The online music magazine didn’t get a single music company to go on the record with its bold claim, though it later updated its story to point out that several label employees did approach the magazine to confirm that plans do exist to nix the compact disc. [See full article from DailyFinance]
Movies on disc are already dead. The demise of Blockbuster in the wake of Netflix pretty much sealed that coffin. Where we used to rush to a video store after work on a Friday to rent the last copy of Top Gun before it was gone, we now click a live stream directly on our set top.
But even though movies on disc is a dead medium for most of us, a small niche has opened up for the corner video store.
While the younger generation increasingly gets its movie fix online, there is a significant segment of the population that doesn’t have computers or Internet connections and likes to venture out to rent a movie, local shop owners say. [Winnipeg Free Press]
There will always be room for nostalgia.
One day libraries may even be called museums.