Digital Consequences

Marshall McLuhan once said that “The old medium is always the content of the new medium.”

He was talking about the way that movies were being morphed into TV but that idea is more than relevant now with all kinds of media being filtered through millions of eyeballs online.

It is tempting to think we will know what the results will be when we mash up content across the media universe but the truth is far more interesting than the fiction.

There is an ongoing need for individuals and businesses to reinvent the way they talk to and otherwise engage with customers- in McLuhan’s description – for the customers to fulfill a extended role in the process and feel themselves to be part of the media / inside the moment.

Peter Hirshberg is one of those  who understood early on some of the implications and the huge social changes coming. He also missed a lot at the time (like most of us) but was able to link a number of the crossover points between TV and the web into a coherent and entertaining story about cultural disruptions and technology.

The video contains a fair amount of archival footage including some classic McLuhan moments.

Peter Hirshberg on TV and the web -31:41 Posted: Sept 2008 on TED

On Peter’s blog he links to a Sept 2007 paper over at HBS If you are an online marketer go read it now.

For digital marketing practice and theory, the last decade has brought two related surprises: the rise of social media and the rise of search media. Marketing has struggled to find its place on these new communication pathways. Old paradigms have been slow to die.

This paper reviews early beliefs about interactive marketing, then identifies 5 discrete roles for interactive technology in contemporary life and 5 ways that firms respond.

It concludes that the new media are rewarding more participatory, more sincere, and less directive marketing styles than the old broadcast media rewarded.

Key concepts include:

  • Successful interactive marketing may be less a matter of domination and control, and more a matter of fitting in.
  • There is a human need to assert and present to the world a self-serving identity and to manage one’s personal reputation.
  • The form of interactivity most attractive to marketing is one that facilitates people’s ability to construct their identity and contribute to the making of meaning.
  • That was the exec summary – I also liked this quote buried in the abstract.

    “It concludes that while meaning-making remains the central purpose of marketing communication, the shift from broadcasting to interaction within digital communities is moving the locus of control over meanings from marketer to consumer and rewarding more participatory, more sincere, and less directive marketing styles.”

    So there you have it – Engagement and roleplay by the consumer.

    This goes all the way back to Shakespeare putting those extra scenes into his plays for the groundlings to watch.

    Modern marketing turns out to be live theatre at its best playing 24/7 on all of your networked devices and no auditions!  Wait… I feel a Shakespeare quote coming on. What do you think?