Sunday, March 12, 2006

Individualism

I'm currently reading a book called "The Support Economy" written by Shoshana Zuboff and James Maxmin.

I'm only about half way through the book, and it's a bit slow going. However, I'm starting to get the premise. It's all about individualism. Over the past thirty years, people have become more and more compelled to find their own uniqueness, to express it and be heard.

This is the major force in consumerism today. People respond more to products and services that allow them to express their uniqueness than just stuff that we need for everyday life.

This is the idea of the book.

When I combine this idea with something I heard from Adam Curry, it really gets interesting.

Adam Curry said that he predicted years ago that everyone would have their own radio station, TV station and newspaper.

He couldn't have seen the exact unfolding, but it is interesting now that we have podcasts (radio), video podcasts (TV) and blogs (newspapers).

Now we have all these ways that people can a) find their uniqueness, b) express it and c) be heard.

But how will this huge pile of podcasts, video and blogs be accessed practically?

Just search engines doesn't seem to be the answer.

There will need to be ways to aggregate the content. Maybe directories, lists or feeds.

Ways to quickly, seamlessly aggregate the content for the listeners/viewers/readers.

Right now, it is a big accomplishment for a blog, etc. to be featured in the big media (CBS, USA Today, etc.). But I wonder if that will continue to be viewed as such? Will the aggregation of our own media become more interesting than the big media features?

That's probably idealistic.

But what if our own individual stories, told by ourselves, got to be more popular than the latest war, Tom Cruise sighting or white woman missing in the Caribbean Islands.

Who knows? It's possible. Maybe.

How will these blogs be themed? Will they follow the stream of consciousness of the blogger/podcaster? Will they be as exact a match to the blogger's personality? Or will the blogger try to find an audience, and then stay true to that audience?

I'm finding this dichotomy in my own work. My blog (here) tends to be a stream of consciousness thing. I put whatever I want into this. It is always exactly in tune with ME, but I do not have an audience in mind. Basically, people seem to be coming here through the search engines. When they find something they like, they read it and, if they really like it, they read a few other posts.

But the podcast is audience-driven. It's about holistic healthcare and that's it. Everything is meant to fit the person who is looking for natural solutions to health problems.

I wouldn't dream of going on some rant like this in my podcast. I have no clue why that is.

Maybe because it takes more effort to put a podcast together than a blog entry.

I've also noticed that what is fairly uninteresting as a single blog could be interesting when aggregated. For instance, the fact that Ed ate tofu for breakfast this morning is not that interesting.

But when you find out that 8% of all people eat tofu for breakfast, that is kind of interesting.

So, how will this work economically? Will this be a chance for people to make money with their hobbies?

Blogs, podcasts and video podcasts could be a great way for a person who is enthusiastic about a hobby to make some cash:

  • history of U.S. presidents

  • model trains

  • stamp collecting

  • embroidery

  • home improvement

  • computer programming / open source


I would be so interested to find out how an open source developer fits his "hobby" of open source programming into his daily life. It must be so much work to build software like Gimp and OpenOffice. How do they do it, and still hold down a day job?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

GIMP and OpenOffice aren't written by hobbyists. There's a small core team of developers that are paid for and do probably 80 - 90 % of the work. The remaining 10 - 20 % is done by a large group of hobbyists like me who try to free up a few hours in the evenings.

Look for example at the ChangeLog file for the GIMP. You will see that most work is done by 3 or 4 developers.

blog: http://maurits.wordpress.com/

Holistic Economy said...

Thank you so much for your informative comment.

That makes a lot more sense.

Let me say that you, the core team and the hobbyists, are doing excellent work.

I use GIMP and OpenOffice daily, and I get a tremendous amount of benefit from them.

I believe you are changing how software is developed, used and marketed in a fundamental way.

Thanks again for updating me on this. I'll put another blog entry to correct myself.