Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Media In Transition: Silicon Valley Is Driving The Changes . . . And Is Changing

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 30, 2009

I was at Chris Brogan's Inbound Marketing Summit on Wednesday, speaking on a panel moderated by Paul Gillin, on the subject of "Media in Transition: The Future of News in a Democratized World." My old friend Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat (formerly with Wall Street Journal, Red Herring, San Jose Mercury) was also on the panel, along with Ken Doctor, analyst with Outsell.

Media in transition is a fascinating subject, I can talk for days, for weeks on this subject.

Between the four of us on the panel, we probably have nearly a century of experience with news media. We now find ourselves taking part in an incredible transition within our industry of a like we will never see again in our lifetime.

And few people realize that Silicon Valley is the main instigator of the disruption happening in the media industry. It is Silicon Valley technologies and companies that are at the forefront of developing the new landscape of the media industry, and also transforming SIlicon Valley into a "media valley."

Take a look at some of our largest companies, such as Google, Yahoo, Ebay. These are media companies. These are not tech companies, you can't buy any tech from them, these are technology-enabled media companies.

They publish pages of content with advertising. What's not a media company about that?

Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist -- are all media companies, they publish pages of content and advertising. And so are most Web 2.0 companies.

Take a look at the Internet, it is a media technology. It allows you to distribute and publish web pages, data, to any computer screen, any computer platform. Now, in this second phase of the Internet, anything with a computer screen can publish back -- it's now two-way, it's read/write, we now use both sides of the glass screen.

It is Internet technologies and services, it is online companies such as Google, Craigslist, etc, that are helping to disrupt the media industry. Or more accurately, disrupt the business model.

When we talk about the death of newspapers, what we really mean is the death of traditional media business models.

On Silicon Valley Watcher, I often use the tag line: "reporting on innovation at the intersection of technology and media." Because that's what's happening, that's what I see, a tremendous intersection of technology and media. It's like tectonic plates coming together and crumpling the landscape into a new mountain range.

And mountain range is a suitable metaphor because there are always two sides to a mountain range, one side is dry and the other is wet and fertile. For example, the Andes protect and enable the massive, wet, fertile Amazon rainforest with its incredible diversity of life, while the west side of the Andes is dry and relatively barren.

The mountain range being created by the intersection of technology and media is a barrier to the traditional media companies, most don't seem to be able to climb and transition to the other side; most won't make it.

But, I'm confident we will have a new type of Amazon rainforest emerging in the media industry, we will see an amazing diversity of media companies and services. You can already see the tremendous amount of innovation emerging and we've only just started.

For example, Facebook and Twitter are very new, even to us in Silicon Valley, and they are spanking brand new for the majority of people today. What other new forms of media will we have a year from now?

We can create incredible mashups of media technologies and media formats that have never been seen before. How will we use them? How will we deal with the loss of traditional media? How will our society handle the transition? How will we pay for journalists and the vital Fourth Estate service that they provide? How do we sell products and services? How do we find trusted sources of information?

There are tons of questions waiting to be answered. And that's what's so wonderful about all of this, we are directly involved in figuring out those important answers. We, the people working in media, in communications, in marketing, in startups, we get a chance to help create and define the future.

This is why I love my job, writing Silicon Valley Watcher, and reporting on innovation at the intersection of technology and media.

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