Digital schizophrenia

At the best of times, I'm pretty crotchety. And dubious. Frankly, I think we'd all be better off if the entire fourth estate was more crotchety and dubious, but I may also be jaded.
March 1, 2006

At the best of times, I’m pretty crotchety. And dubious. Frankly, I think we’d all be better off if the entire fourth estate was more crotchety and dubious, but I may also be jaded.

So, you have to keep that in mind when I say: I love the idea of broadband broadcasting. I love the potential it has for the democratization of media. I love the creativity that will be spawned by its uncertainty. I love the chaos it will spread as it undermines broadcasting models that too often celebrate the mundane and strive – just one more time – to mambo under that lowest common denominator. I love it because it allows Coppola’s fat little girl to dream that dream. Maybe now she’ll get distribution.

That’s the potential. Question is: which future is going to show up?

Will it be one choked with clutter? Stringent filters will have to be put in place so media consumers will be able to find meaningful content. So far, search engines tend to overwhelm more than they help, thanks to the volume of returns they supply for every query.

Will the financial models be attractive enough to bring in significant pools of viewers? Hopefully enough corporate partnerships can be formed that viewers are relieved of some of the burden that comes with VOD or subscription models.

Will broadband, as some pundits claim, only serve to striate consumers into super-niches, whatever they are, to the exclusion of everything else? People only have so much time and money to spend on media, and they’ll have to fine tune.

Or, can we be optimistic for once? (Not my strong suit, but I’m willing to give it a shot.) Perhaps the availability of countless alternatives will prevent providers from risking subpar content. Try to imagine: a world with no more filler.

Maybe broadband will add layers to the zeitgeist, becoming the backbone of an unlimited knowledge base and memory in video form, available for anyone who wants to explore it. It could even put content consumers – the ones with the money – in control of media, as they should be.

The potential for rights holders with access to a global audience is enormous – not a single, mass audience in one specific region, mind you, but an international aggregate of viewers who share common interests. And prizes will go to the companies that, as Apple says in its Jethro Bodean-like way, ‘Think Different.’

For content-makers, the key to success in this new world will be to do what they do better than anyone else. There will only be so much room for generalists in the broadband age, so it behooves them to follow their passion, explore their niche, and do it best.

But then, that’s always been the best advice for creatives.

Brendan Christie

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.