Saturday, December 06, 2008

Content: the third way, pretend you are 19

Or 14.

Then there’s the troublesome third argument, the one we know is true. This is the one that admits that the content that thrives in the new distribution-and-display systems is suspiciously different from the American popular culture we used to love even 10 years ago. Thrillers, it seems, don’t flourish on Hulu. No one is reading a six-part investigative series about mayoral malfeasance on Twitter. And if it’s the afterthought message boards — the ones moderated by interns — that draw all the traffic, why are we in old media pouring so much money and time into “main event” programming that goes unread and unviewed?

NYT on the content truth that dare not speak its name.

People who work in traditional media and entertainment ought either to concentrate on the antiquarian quality of their work, cultivating the exclusive audience of TV viewers or magazine readers that might pay for craftsmanship. Or they should imagine that they are 19 again: spending a day on Twitter or following a recipe from a Mark Bittman video played on a refrigerator that automatically senses what ingredients are missing and texts an order to the grocery store (it will soon exist!). Then they should think about what content suits these new modes of distribution and could evolve in tandem with them. For old-media types, mental flexibility could be the No. 1 happiness secret we have been missing.

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