I may not be in Dallas this week – but I did just watch Long Tail author Chris Anderson give a talk at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
Most of the talk was Chris covering familiar ground for me (I read the original Wired article and kept up with his blog and articles over the years) but he managed to articulate a concept that I’ve been finding difficulty articulating myself. The culture created by the media landscape is increasingly desynchronized.
In the past – chances were good most of us watched the same TV show last night – read the same newspaper this morning – listened to the same radio station on the ride in to work and found many people around the water cooler with which we could have superficial conversations about all these things we “shared”. The culture was synchronized around HUGE hit shows, songs and news sources.
These HUGE hits were not an accurate representation of the tastes of the people – but rather a consequence of the limits the delivery systems imposed on the market. When there were 3 shows to watch – most of the country was watching 3 shows. In other words – the hits of the past and the shared culture around them were an anomoly.
Bring in the explosion of choices today- and while many of the most popular outlets are still “most popular” (big 3 networks for example) far fewer people are synchronized around them. A trip to the water cooler no longer means discussing the show everyone watched last night. They’re all watching different stuff now – and even then many are probably time shifting it from it’s original airing.
What’s the point? Today’s “hits” are hits among smaller groups of people. And this is going to continue.
There will always be anomolies – but the overall trend is moving towards preference for OTHER to equal and eclipse the HITS.