Sorry, Peter

Feb 09 2006

One of the keys to self-improvement is to be able to recognize when your own personal little world is changing due to outside influences. We each have hobbies and markets that we’re involved in, and over time they’re impacted by technology and public opinion. We have to recognize these changes and act on them.

Consider “Old Media”—TV, newspapers, radio, etc. Peter Chermin, president and COO of News Corporation, wrote a glowing editorial on the wonderful potential of new technology for his medium. His basic premise: Old Media isn’t dead; new technology just offers more opportunities for growth.

Well, yes, and no. Because the one thread running throughout Mr. Chermin’s piece is the idea of consumers as generic consumers, of media as mass media. His contention appears to be that, if mass media can just take advantage of new technology, it can reach more of the same sorts of people it reaches now.

But increasingly, people aren’t interested in mass media. The people I know get news and entertainment from very specific sources. There are fewer and fewer “generic consumers” any more. My parents buy their food at a small market, watch one cable channel (BBC America, at that), and use personalized webmail through this very server (e.g., not Gmail, Hotmail, etc.). Mass media just don’t reach people the way they used to.

And that’s always the danger. Even when you see change, and even when you change your attitude towards the change itself, you don’t always change your life in response to the consequences. When you can completely change yourself as a response to change, then you’re on the path to self-improvement.

At least, that’s what I think.

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