The accelerating disruption

I’m feeling rather reflective this morning, so I’m going to just ramble and hope that this makes sense.

I don’t know whether I’m more excited about the cultural changes underway among us or the continued advancement of disruptive innovations brought about by technology. These two events aren’t’ disconnected, and I remain convinced that it is culture driving the advancements in technology, not the other way around.

I just read about Steve Case’s “Revolution” over at PaidContent, so I went exploring. Case is the guy who built AOL, and he has a lot of money. One of his first projects under the Revolution brand is Revolution Health Group, a company with a lot of Postmodern potential. The company announced the acquisition of four new companies that will help accelerate its growth.

“With these initial investments, we are on our way to building a company that puts patients back in control of their health care decisions,” said Steve Case, Chairman of RHG. “We’ve made so much progress so quickly, and I’m excited about what we will be bringing to market in the months ahead. Still, the work has just begun on what is a long-term project that will take years to reach its full potential.”
The company plans to launch a health portal Website next year, and it shows promise. One of the acquisitions is Wondir, a search engine linking users with others who may have answers to their health-care problems. This suggests to me that Case and his board understand where the culture is going, and that one of the best health care resources we have is the collective experiences of human beings. This is quite exciting to me, because it encapsulates the thoughts about which I’ve been writing for years (and most recently expressed in this week’s essay, The Jewel of the Elites).

In reading through the summaries of the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco (Jeff Jarvis has a wonderful report on new technologies) and the We Media conference in New York, I’m struck by how far behind the curve the mainstream is in things Internet. It’s clear to me that the opportunity exists for any mainstream media company to leapfrog competitors by YEARS, if they would only get involved in media 2.0 concepts. Look around. Mainstream companies are just now adopting technologies that myself and others have been talking about for years, while the leading edge of technological advancements are taking everything in a personal-empowerment direction. There is a HUGE window of opportunity for somebody, but I see no one stepping up to the plate. This is troubling, for one day — and I mean this with all my heart — the media industry will awaken to find that the goose that laid the golden egg is dead, and that they have been abandoned completely.

Consider the truth of marketing guru Tom Hespos’ vision as expressed in Tuesday’s MediaPost Online Spin, Consumer-Generated Content Should Fill Garfield’s Void. In this insightful piece, Hespos continues Bob Garfield’s “Chaos Scenario” argument that there just isn’t enough content generated by mass media to fill advertiser demands online.

It would be nice to see consumer-generated content fill the Garfield-identified void. Not only would it facilitate the flow of more dollars into the medium, but it would also produce successful results for clients. Still another terrific side effect — brand advertisers would be drawn closer to the conversations relating to their brands and product categories.
This is where we’re headed, folks, and in the next 24 months, the personal media revolution will begin sucking money from all forms of media, and when that happens, it’ll be over for many.

On Monday, Jarvis Coffin of Burst! Media will be in Nashville speaking to local bloggers who’ve expressed an interest in monetizing their content. These people don’t generate enough page views themselves to be on the radar of a guy like Coffin, but together — and especially because of the diversity of their pages — they make a sizeable group with which to experiment in the Hespos-envisioned world. In facilitating this ad network, WKRN-TV and Young Broadcasting are creating a genuinely New Media revenue stream for themselves. They will be selling local ads across the network and sharing revenue with the bloggers.

My friend, J.D. Lasica, led me to a profound quote this morning from the Web 2.0 conference. It’s from Esther Dyson, Chairman of EDventure:

“You can no longer tell people about your brand; you have to let them experience it.”
This marvelous quote describes the cultural changes taking place in our world moreso than technological disruptions, and takes me back to the beginning.

These are amazing times in which we live. Hold onto your hats.

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