Movie Cloud: When is abundance disruptive?
From Scarcity to Abundance and the Long Tail
It was only about 5 years ago that I had this dream… let’s call it a desire. It was inspired by a Qwest commercial. The scene was a guy in the desert, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, stopping by a dusty motel. He asks the man at the desk, “Do you have movies here?”. The reply was, “We have every movie ever made.” If I could only have that!
So, now its a million years later.. or 5 years in Internet time. With Netflix, Hulu, and the rest I nearly have every movie ever made. With Pandora, Spotify, and the rest I nearly have every track of music ever recorded. With iHeartRadio, Tunein, and the rest I nearly have every radio station in the world at my finger tips. With free ebooks and Books24x7 I nearly have every book every published.
Now, if Movie Cloud is a success, I may have access to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of independent films.
Is placing all this variety in the hands of every citizen a good thing or a bad thing?
I can appreciate the long tail. But, at what point does this disrupt the cohesiveness and identity of society?
When there were just a few TV channels and no cable or satellite we were all watching the same programs. When there were only records and CD’s we all listened to the same music. We all heard the same radio programs and saw the same movies. This was “our time”. We had something that we all had in common and could talk about. We were all on the same page. When someone refers to the 70’s or the 80’s we all know that time. That time is defined by the music, the movies, and the television of the decade – which was a reflection of the interaction of the culture and events of the time. We all experienced the same thing – limited and defined.
Now, with abundance rather than scarcity in media, we can all live in different times. Not only can we live in different decades but the abundance of media we can explore different locales. For example,we have access to independent films that are not under the control of hollywood. We can listen to independent Internet Radio that is not part of any network or syndication. The same with video. We no longer need a “television device” to watch video. What characterizes “this time”?
The new scarcity is attention
Is this freedom to sample and live in any decade freedom or disorienting? Not only that, but where is the filter?
The guy in the video above wants to unleash on me 50,000 new independent films each year. What is the signal to noise ratio on 50,000 new films each year? People are willing to pay for filters. For example, the Wall Street Journal. People will pay a subscription fee to the WSJ to ensure the quality and credibility of the information they read. Don’t want the filter? Then fine, you are free to read a billion other web sites with business news per your assessment of the validity and quality. I think somehow, for movies, Hollywood is that filter. In a world of abundance, the new scarcity is attention. This is why we need filters.
The end of Pleasantville
Some people prefer the simple life. Diversity is a threat. Making choices is a challenge. If only we could go back to the time of Ward and June Cleaver.
For others, abundance is a wonderland.
In all cases, if Hollywood and the Media Networks lose control then who will be there to demonstrate the societal values and nudge us on what to think? Is it better for society to be cohesive with few choices or is it better that everyone listen and watch anything they want? If you saw the movie Pleasantville you know the disruptive effect of alternative choices in a perfect society where all truths are known and there are no difficult questions.
What is this time and what is this place?
With all this abundance of media, what is being lost is a sense of place. To define “our time” to a precision similar to when we talk about any of the decades (50’s, 60’s, 70’s etc) – or any decade before the internet – will be increasingly difficult. What is this time and what is this place?