In my last blog I wrote about how mobile data traffic is set to explode - it is expected to more than double every two years in the short to medium term. When we see this type of growth rate in semiconductor circuitry development it’s called Moore’s Law and it got me thinking.
Futurists such as Ray Kurzweil, have luckily for me, also done a lot of thinking about Moore’s Law and have extrapolated the exponential growth rate to other areas where technological evolution occurs. They call it the Law of Accelerating Returns.
Kurzweil predicts that the 21st century is going to see the largest degree of technological advancement in our history and that the rate of this advancement will increase as each technological breakthrough speeds up our ability to solve problems. Ultimately, it seems, we will reach a point in time where the rate of technological and intellectual advancement happens almost instantaneously.
He calls it the singularity, and it’s near. (His book, The Singularity Is Near is a good read)
Interestingly, Facebook as a platform, a repository of content, point of content discovery and personal recommendations are experiencing The Law of Accelerating Returns first hand. Mark Zuckerberg recently said that Facebook now plan to ‘an equivalent of a Moore’s law of sharing’, where the amounts of data people share roughly doubles every year.
This growth is coming from a big increase in the use of mobile devices, which is why Facebook have now launched Facebook Home and refer to themselves as a mobile first business. Other media content industries music/radio, the press, and TV are at different stages of becoming digital, Internet first companies.
Given that digital is becoming the mode of carriage for all media, media in turn becomes subject to Law of Accelerating Returns. So, it’s clear that tomorrow’s media landscape is going to look very different from today. After all Facebook is only 13 years old and Twitter 7 and Vdio is just 6 days old.
As ‘traditional media’ businesses converge and distribute their content through Internet connected devices, so the lines between them will increasingly blur. Print brands already look more like TV channels, and TV channels and producers more like app developers and social media sites. I’ve discussed this topic in detail here and here.
So, how is the Law of Accelerating Returns affecting content?
The impact is manifold and it is certainly rapidly reducing digital production and distribution costs. In theory therefore, entertainment products should become further enriched, multi-platform and transmedia.
From original caveman paintings to books, cinema, TV and computer games, all advances in communications technology have lead to us being able to tell stories in richer, more sophisticated and quicker ways.
Connected screens and new media platforms are driving change in how we consume and interact with media and entertainment. Already, a lot of our TV entertainment is transmedia thanks to mobile apps and social media sites Twitter and Facebook, it’s just not very sophisticated most of the time and we don’t think of it in such a discreet terms.
TV shows with accompanying mobile apps are proving to deliver more emotionally engaged audiences and who have consequently higher brand favorability to advertisers. Sophisticated transmedia formats also give content producers the opportunity to build communities of hard to reach audiences and interact with them more regularly than just a 1-hour slot on TV on a Sunday.
The latest transmedia product is Defiance. which launches on the 16th of April 2013.
TV broadcaster Syfy and games developer Trion have teamed up to produce it. It’s a sci-fi transmedia product that meshes a computer game and TV series into one.
Their website claims that “the Defiance TV series is a revolutionary weekly drama that impacts the game, and gives you the chance to change the show.” Sounds like a grand ambition (it is rumoured the project has cost a $100 million) and suggests they really want their community to drive the narrative.
Of course, in the epoch of the ‘Internet of Things’ and transmedia storytelling, where your kettle is talking to your toaster, who’s to say your toaster won’t be trying tell you something? (see title picture of Jesus)
P.S If Kurzweil is right in few years time I won’t have to worry writing about the future of technology and it’s affect on the ‘media industry’ and you won’t have to worry about reading it. The machines will be doing it for us, instantly. The singularity is near.