Last week, entrepreneur Saul Rothbart began a series of guest posts here at FFoF, called Virtual Capitalism. (Here’s the first post.)
Here’s the second part in the series, taking up where the first column left off, using the example of the origins and growth of the movie industry to demonstrate how technological developments drive creative business models…
VIRTUAL CAPITALISM 101
Last week’s column looked at the history of the movies, and attempted to highlight the calculus behind media in transition and it’s transforming effect in changing and shaping new social orders.
It also took a look at how the invention of the film splicer gave filmmakers a powerful tool that enabled them to create a unique language that incorporated, in a visceral way, time and space to communicate their stories.
It took about 15 years from the inception of commercial “shorts” to the physical realization of the film splicer. Nobody seemed to care though. Shorts were, what they were: brief interstitials of artificially induced visual experiences. Nobody expected otherwise and fair value was always received.
(Some astute exhibitors actually did manage to take full economic advantage of the very limitations of early films by outfitting railway cars as rolling theaters and during scheduled stops, running entire populations of town-folk through, to watch a five-minute reel of a moving train track. Capitalism tends to reward the creative, the resourceful and the enterprising.)
Great transformations resulting from the introduction of new media are atmospheric, and save for a few artists and seers, no one really notices the full impact of its influence until much later on. John Naughton makes this point in comparing the state of the Internet’s current chronology to the effect Gutenberg’s printing press had as a “change agent” on Western civilization. Notably, fifteen years from when his first Bible was published in 1455, who would have thought in 1470, that the printed word would:
a) Undermine the authority of the Catholic church?
(b) Power the Reformation?
(c) Enable the rise of modern science?
(d) Create entirely new social classes and professions?
(e) Change our conceptions of “childhood” as a protected early period in a person’s life?
Big stuff, to be sure.
Nowadays, in the same manner the film splicer provided a simple device to serve filmmakers in telling a great story, the development of blog software, provides bloggers with a simple splicing tool that enables the creation of interpretative meshes of digital text and images in a most unique form of communication, replete with its own grammar, punctuation and generative style,
Already the future is evident in blogs like Ghost of a Flea, that the gestalt of our times can indeed be masterly communicated as an epic tale of contemporary culture. Already it’s evident that blogs like Five Feet of Fury can better traditional news organizations in coverage and accuracy on the issues of the day.
And already it’s evident that blogs, set on a bi-directional platform, bring an unprecedented dynamic in the way media consumers can interact with content creators, which in of itself, extends the range of octaves available to the original creator.
But what isn’t evident, is the actual business model that will drive new media as an enterprise into the future. As any honest executive in print and broadcasting will attest; they really don’t know how to shift their business model, based on dollars, into one that can thrive on digital dimes. The implication being that media running on the Internet is in reality, a reductive business-value proposition.
While the scale is different, big media has the same problem as small media bloggers. By and large, site traffic doesn’t rationalize in the top-line to make the effort truly commercially viable.
The challenge, as Albert Einstein aptly put it: is that the thinking that got you into the problem in the first place, (i.e big media thinking of mass markets), is the wrong thinking to find a solution.
The solution is no doubt there, it’s just waiting to be invented.
So in the meantime, to monetize your blog the imperative is to have the mindset of a farmer with a clear understanding and appreciation of the long term objective.
* Plow-in deep with full expectation of a rich harvest.
* Seed to maximize root growth linking to others that are “like”
* And weed your comments of non-friendlies to keep things right with your loyal readers.
And if you aren’t already doing so, encourage, promote and sell eReaders through your blog. Your loyal readers will thank you. After all, we are living in another Gutenberg moment of great transformation.)
NB: For those bloggers that rely on Google ads to generate income, Robert X. Cringely has some great insight and advice on how to maximize the benefit.
NB: Like the world over, I’m shocked and horrified at the the environmental catastrophe taking place off the coast of Louisiana. So is Tom Peters, who offers the clearest explanation yet of what went wrong.
(Next week: Ecology, Eco-systems and Tribes)
Copyright A. Saul Rothbart 2010
(Off-line, the author provides contact marketing solutions to the financial services industry. To find out more, CLICK HERE.)