YouTube is being sued by a photojournalist who might just bring them down; Napster is so old news that “new generations” of users don’t even know who they were; Skype is struggling – but VoIP is taking off. On the other hand, The Sopranos caused a global stir, and it’s one month and a few weeks till the last Harry Potter.
What do any of these have in common?
Think about what they represent, and let’s see if we can’t find a common thread – or maybe not…you judge.
What is YouTube about? Sharing? Is that new? Countries and rulers have been brought down by or raised up by rumor and innuendo since time immemorial. Gutenberg was motivated by the ability to share; the French Revolution was fueled by whispers; the American Revolution by leaflets posted on walls and secretly passed from hand to hand; and the Russian Revolution by vast amounts of disinformation passed through cells that multiplied the effect of the message. No doubt YouTube would have played a role in all of the above, but…
Is YouTube just about a more efficient manner in which to communicate? Or is it something else? What problem are they solving for? Bottom line as we have discussed before, take away the paid model for good content, and we will be left watching moldy cheese ripening…
How ‘bout Napster? In the end it was all about free music – if I could have the latest music for free all the time, and you only gave it to me on vinyl records, I’m ready to bet that most of us would revert to old-style record players as a primary source of input.
And let me jump to Harry – who in his or her right mind would want to write a book? Kids don’t read, and you can’t sell them anyways…
So here is a thought – all of the above are great. Each has advanced us – socially, culturally and economically – yet the examples of The Sopranos and Harry Potter, while linked, are different.
Seems to me that the real issue with YouTube, Skype, or You Name It, is that they are Internet solutions; created on the Internet; looking to solve problems that they think are Internet related or Internet-centric at least.
The Sopranos and Harry Potter are about us – you and me – people – and they are solutions to the age-old problem of, “how can I reach and move large audiences with a message that I think is important and moving.” Homer struggled with it; Shakespeare too; not to mention the author of the Bible (whoever or whatever…).
Their insight was rooted in understanding their audiences; what mattered to them; their fears; their desires; their dreams; their nightmares. Technology – the latest quill pen or stone cutting had little or no impact – other than to serve as a more efficient way to get the point across.
So what do you think about this possibility?
Technology creates the platform; the opportunity to solve problems in a different way; new horizons – you get the idea – no need for clichés!
But if technology remains technology and simply seeks to be technology – then what happens? Maybe not a lot…
Think on this:
“Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which the problems were created.” – Albert Einstein
So if we look for solutions for YouTube or Napster or MSN within the confines of the Web – can we really find them? Or like Sisyphus will we always just about get there, and then…
To give you more food for thought, check out what people said about radio, TV and the automobile – in the 1800s and even beyond, they couldn’t look beyond the framework to find an answer. In one way they were smaller thinkers as they couldn’t even imagine anything – today we have lots of imaginers, but how many are really driving solutions to the things that matter to you?