The Definition Of Media…
… in the Internet age.
Om Malik, founder of GigaOM and now venture capitalist, has summarized in an article what he has learnt about the world of media during his journalistic career. He gives his definition of media: “Anything which owns attention.”
This is in my opinion the best possible definition. Why?
In the past, a media was a company that distributed content on paper, radio waves or screens. Since the advent of the Internet, the concept of media has been both simplified and complexified.
Simplified as a result of the commoditization of digital technologies. Today, everyone can be a media: Citizen-journalist use their smartphones to report the news, bloggers comment on the news, and Internet users publish pictures, videos and comments online. There is no longer any distinction between media and audience.
But, because of this, the concept of media is also more complex. Without even mentioning here its economic and societal consequences, the unprecedented increase in the number of content publishers has spawned a revolution of usages: Our media consumption is now ubiquitous, instantaneous, interactive, and community-driven.
It therefore resembles practices (games, gossip, learning…) that were not hitherto considered as media. Indeed, the digital revolution has created the largest number of shadow competitors* any industry has ever had to deal with in history.
All these players are competing for an increasingly scarce resource in the era of information overload: The audience’s attention.
* A shadow competitor is a product that competes with another one without being in direct competition with it in the same industry. For example, a new movie isn’t only in direct competition with other movies. It also faces the competition of other forms of entertainment: Restaurant, sports, museum, theater…