This is the sort of post I wish I had the time and talent to write. Now, the least I can do is link to it and urge you to read it.
With a little bit of introspection and reflection on the functional constraints and social affordances of media, we can grasp new forms of communication. Vine is just an example for Om Malik to elaborate how conventions and consumer expectations emerge from a particular medium.1
So please enjoy a quick introduction to very recent media history, and some context to help us understand how technology and a peer group of users shape what a medium is. Screen sizes, download speeds, user habits, they all have a systematic relation to the way we can package moving pictures into an experience. Putting the pieces together helps us understand, perhaps even tentatively predict media evolution.
And if, after reading the piece, you feel up to it, imagine how a change in user base, like a succession of generations, may influence the development of a tool itself. We don’t read our grandmother’s newspapers, if we read newspapers at all. Do you think that the Youtubes or Facebooks 15 years in the future will cater to today’s expectations? Surely they will adapt to new users demanding their experience to matter, lest they go the way of Myspace.
Incidentally, Medium, the platform, is another example where it is hard to pinpoint what it is that makes the medium. Its properties are fluid, never quite clear to either its authors or readers whether it is a distribution platform or a channel with its own voice and brand. And yet, through networked use of the technology, of the medium, properties emerge that bring value to both, authors and readers. ↩︎
The post Bruce Sterling wrote about the state of communication infrastructure and its denizens is a gift that keeps on giving. You can read it as a piece on policy in a post globalization world, or as an analysis of where systems thinking and intelligence collide with ideals of democracy and rules dating to a premodern world. I’m sure you can read something else into it entirely, but read it you should, if you have not already. It is relevant in every context.