For every kid that I bump into who is wandering the media industry looking for an entrance that closed some time ago, I come across another who is a bundle of ideas, energy and technological mastery. The next wave is not just knocking on doors, but seeking to knock them down.
Somewhere down in the Flatiron, out in Brooklyn, over in Queens or up in Harlem, cabals of bright young things are watching all the disruption with more than an academic interest. Their tiny netbooks and iPhones, which serve as portals to the cloud, contain more informational firepower than entire newsrooms possessed just two decades ago. And they are ginning content from their audiences in the form of social media or finding ways of making ambient information more useful. They are jaded in the way youth requires, but have the confidence that is a gift of their age as well.
What it means: David Carr describes what happens to an industry (newspaper, magazine, book publishing in this case) when it waits too long to change and innovate. Reading this, I can’t help but think of my recent blog post on Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis (founders of Kazaa, Skype and Joost) who chose to work against and with media. These two paragraphs also makes me think of the vibrant energy felt in the Web industry circa 1997-1999. It also reminds me of this article Kevin Kelly wrote post- dotcom bust, when everyone in the digerati was licking their wounds. Let’s not forget the Dotcom bust lead to what we call today Web 2.0 and the rise of social networking.
You know what? It’s all intuition at this point, so I can’t back this up with data, but we’re probably on the verge of another major shift in local media. The year of mobile is happening right now. Location is the hottest topic amongst techies. The Kelsey Group invites people to attend ILM ’09 conference (you should!) by saying “Get Ready for the Post Recovery Digital Shift”. I think they’re right. Expect investments in disruptive local technology and startups to pick up once again next year and traditional media companies need to be ready for this new game.
Update: don’t believe that VC investments are coming back? Read this post written today on the True Ventures corporate blog. Excerpt: “Over the past few weeks we’ve seen extremely high activity in new venture investments. Starting in September, we witnessed the return of multiple term sheet deals, short fuse situations, and a renewed urgency to most fund-raisings. (…) Venture is back. And it’s back because of one word: exits.”