It might be interesting if TV trade show organizers finally gave up on all those conferences during the shows, and instead put together a panel of hands-on experts from various fields in the content business so that, together, they can come up with a unified vision of the industry’s future.
“New research says that you can now eat two eggs a week,” my cardiologist told me before adding, “but do it fast, before we change our minds.”
Research into the past is much like medical research. It’s one thing one year, and another the next. Indeed, the past is very fluid as history often depends upon whom and when you ask.
In his 2003 book A Short History of Nearly Everything, American author Bill Bryson mentions a story about German physicist Hans Christian von Baeyer discussing a conversation that Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard had when explaining his desire to keep a diary with German physicist Hans Bethe: “I don’t intend to publish. I am merely going to record the facts for the information of God.” “Don’t you think God knows the facts?” Bethe asked. “Yes,” replied Szilard. “He knows the facts, but He does not know this version of the facts.”
It’s clear that the past is opaque, but what about the future? Well, there the horizon is even murkier. Take Pluto for example. Some-times it’s considered a planet, and sometimes it’s not.
In television, as in other fields, the future also depends upon whom you ask. Technologists have their opinions. So do the advertising people, the creative people, the TV outlet operators, and the regulators. Media pundits express dual opinions on this topic and people tend to dislike both of them.
There are diverging opinions among experts in each and every TV specialty, depending on whether he or she works in broadcasting, cablecasting, webcasting, creative processes, production finances, investments, and so on.
Some experts predict the end of broadcast television, saying that broadband is going to replace airwaves. Others note that airwaves and broadband are the same thing, therefore broadcast TV won’t die, but evolve. Pessimists are positive about the end of linear television. Optimists note that linear TV viewing is still rising and that no one has yet developed a platform that works better. Advertisers know if they run an ad on Monday, they will see a tangible sales lift on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, they say.
Some market researchers explain that the way television is consumed is generational and that “Boomers” watch TV differently than “Generation X-ers” and “Millennials,” which is true. But what is not noted is that, in a few years, “Millennials” will be the age of today’s “Generation X-ers,” who will, of course, become the age of today’s “Boomers” (after all, what’s the alternative?), and their tastes will change as they age. The word “meme” (which means “short-lived”) was coined exactly for this kind of media evolution.
It might be interesting if trade show organizers finally gave up on all those conferences during their events, and instead put together a panel of hands-on experts from various fields in the content business so that, together, they can come up with a unified vision of the industry’s future.
I envision that a final agreement will not be able to be reached during the panel itself, so panelists should be segregated (like a Vatican conclave to elect a Pope) in a conference room prior to the trade show so that they might be able to cross-check ideas, and be able to put forth a roadmap that could work for all sectors, which they could then present at the seminar. It would be akin to Albert Einstein’s “Grand Unified Theory.”
It is also possible, though, that such a panel will, once again, do little but reaffirm the maxim of American screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men), who famously said that “Nobody knows anything.” After all, a headline in a November issue of The New York Times magazine stated, “The Internet didn’t turn out the way we hoped.”
(By Dom Serafini)
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