On the most recent episode of the podcast We Got This, hosts Mark and Hal spoke with Andy Richter about the greatest invention of the last 100 years.The show rather quickly whittled the list down to television and the internet, which really should be a surprise to no one. [Technically, spoilers ahead for the episode, although quite frankly they pretty much decide in the first five minutes.]
Their argument basically boiled down to two things--television had gatekeepers, while the internet doesn't. Both, of course, have their pros and cons--with people picking and choosing the content, it's hard for a lot of people to get their message out, and it can quickly devolve into a combination of self-reinforcing repetitiveness and nepotism. WIth no filter, however, there's no way to verify if information is true or valid or not.
It got me to thinking about the future of media, and how it is almost certain that television and the internet will eventually merge into something akin to a tiered system. We already see this, to a certain extent--streaming services have profilerated, and while it's certain that the market will have only a few victors in the end, it's almost certain to be the standard for quite some time. (I suppose there's a non-trivial chance that we will move to a per-show model, much like iTunes has as an option, but I find that unlikely--bundles, even smaller ones like the current offerings, seem to balance content and price.)
But I see a future where there's two systems, at least as content media is concerned--the "free" internet, and the cream of the crop bubbles up and is snagged by the established networks/distributors. We still have the gatekeepers, but we also still have the freedom of the internet. In a way, we see this in the book publishing business--self-publishing is easier and cheaper as it has ever been, but this has produced a lot of garbage. A lot. So we still need publishing houses to curate the things that people want to see, while the option still exists if you want to drag through the wild west of offerings. (An added benefit of the "regular" internet is that there's a dedicated army of people who enjoy niche subjects already doing this. You want a sci-fi furry mystery? If it's good, it will eventually be found.)
I am sure there are drawbacks to all this, probably related to news (which probably shouldn't count as 'content media' anyway, but I also think they are forever linked). But that is a deeper, more complex problem I'm not equipped to handle. Doesn't mean I don't have an opinion on it, of course.