Sunday, September 10, 2006

Part 4. The Relative Value of Content (is Dropping)

This is Part 4 in a multi-post series on the topics of Participatory Media and Consumer Generated Content.

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Moore's Law was the prediction that computing power (the complexity of integrated circuits) would double every 24 months. With this doubling, the relative cost of computing power would drop.

With Moore's Law in mind I've been thinking that a similar phenomenon regarding the relative value of content must exist. (I think I'll call it Sherman's Infraction).

The amount of content that is released and consumed, relative to the past is staggering. The choices we have in movies, books, magazines, songs, websites and games is overwhelming. In the last post, Its Gotten Personal, I talked about all those points of individual connection that have freed us from narrow "pick up" distribution and have given us access to content, free of location and time constraints. We have much more access, wherever/whenever to much more content, both new and old.

The rate of turnover for content is accelerating and the lifespan has shortened. We're spending less time with more content and as a result each piece gets a reduced degree of personal psychic investment. Individual pieces of content also do not enjoy the same level of conferred value as a part of the shared collective experience. We're not all gathered around the same sources enjoying the same stuff.

There is a name for commodity products that are quickly consumed and then tossed aside, disposable.

It was a different media environment when the Rolling Stones created and released Sympathy for the Devil. A hit like this, for a band this big commanded a lot of attention. It was big deal. With today's choices and access, and fame's shelf-life being reduced from the previously standard 15 minutes a piece of content just doesn't enjoy the "use" it used to.

Sympathy for the Devil and a new single by Paris Hilton are a banquet and a fast food snack respectively. This is irrespective of value judgments about quality and more about patterns of consumption. The hits just keep on coming, only now there are way more of them, that get less attention, from a fewer number of people.

The point it brings to a head is: Should we really be paying the same about for something that gets 3 decades of cultural use and something that gets 3 months of personal?

I may be exaggerating a bit to make a point, but only a bit. I do believe that the talent pool is expanding and the cost of technology to produce content does continue to plummet. More and more variety is on the way.

Content simply isn't worth what it used to be. It just isn't being repriced accordingly. A huge volume of content is hyped and marketed, particularly to young people. Keeping current with "what's now" is an expensive lifestyle tab. No wonder people are choosing to acquire content illegally. The portions are huge and there is always another tomorrow.

Here are the Rolling Stones, from the year of my birth.

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On Participatory Media and User Generated Content. A multi-post series.

Part 1. Talking to Ourselves
It's what people do!

Part 2. What Are We Talking About?
Defining the terms and context.

Part 3. Its Gotten Personal
The points of connection are now directly to, and between, individuals.


Nixta said...

Moore's law, dear fellow, typically has a 24-month cycle, not 18, though it often feels shorter. Is it being revised? Perhaps it should, 24 months is such an arbitrary absolute amount.

There's only one solution to the growing talent-pool - consolidate the members. Force them to create uberworks. It'll be parallel computing for human achievement. The naysayers are discarded and we're left with rock-opera.

More content vs Less time is why we will soon have a nation divided into A.D.D. sufferers (those that can't cope) and superkids that can invent supercomplex VCRs to superflummox us old people with.

I'll be able to act like an old dribbling fart on unconfirmed leave from the retirement home by the age of 45.

Tom Sherman said...

I stand corrected my fact checking friend. Hey, when you're in town I have a mole I'd like to show you.