In dissecting Current.TV‘s relationship with its content contributors, Umair Haque at BuggleGeneration gets right to the heart of what’s wrong with most big-media attempts to interact with the citizens via citizens’ media. The big guys think it’s still about them. They don’t understand — and perhaps never will — that it’s not about speaking but listening, about blowing up their networks to take part in vastly bigger networks than they ever could have imagined.
This raises a very special problem for Current TV. Namely, that more Web 2.0 focused competitors can always and everywhere offer a superior value prop, because they can leverage complementarity. Put another way, Current TV, by tying itself heavily to cable and satellite distribution, may be foregoing the real opportunity. If you follow this analysis, Current will never be able to raise relative switching costs.
Is this a symptom of a deeper…uhhh…thing? Check this out:
Okay: We want to put together a reflective piece on the London bombings and their implications. Get out a camera — a webcam will do — and start talking.”
Look, peer production is not about ordering prosumers around to meekly do your bidding. It’s about building a platform/community that does theirs.
Not to sound harsh, but perhaps Current has the whole dynamics of this stuff backwards.
In a sense, this is the same kind of mistake that 1.0 dot commers made – assuming that the www was just another distribution/mktg channel. Dot com 2.0 peer production plays like Current seem to be assuming more and more that the www is just another production channel (supply chain, if ya like). It’s emphatically not.
The deep economics of peer production are very different – they’re about supply-side network fx, strong complementarity, and increasing returns. All of which are very different from traditional media competitive dynamics, and create very different industry structures.
Right. It’s impossible for the big guys to think outside their networks. They can only think centralized; that was their core value, after all. They must learn how to think distributed: If they want to play in this new world at all, if they can, they must find out how they can help enable people to do what they want to do where they are already doing it.
This means sharing content. It means sharing promotion. It means sharing knowledge and training. And, most of all, it means sharing money. It means supporting citizens’ media in every way.
Think eBay: It lets people start new businesses. What is the media equivalent of that? How do you create the world’s biggest network by not tying it to a network, by even giving up your old network?
I haven’t seen many examples of this. I’ve seen big-media companies try to suck up content and cool from the new guys; that will expire like milk at a 7/11. I’ve seen new, little-media companies use the old, big-media models but make it work just because it’s so much cheaper. I haven’t seen many, if any, truly enable (and then exploit) the distributed universe. I’m working on my little corners of it, trying to push notions of the open-source infrastructure that become necessary if you’re going to enable a distributed model. But it’s not easy. Media always — always — existed thanks to its closed networks, thanks to controlling the means of distribution. When the advantage of distribution disappears — and, in fact, becomes just a cost that weighs you down vs. your new, Web. 2.0 competitors — these guys don’t know what to do. They want to impose the old models on the new instead of accepting that the old is gone and understanding the opportunities of the new.
Current.TV isn’t it, or doesn’t look like it’s going to be. Blog posts quoted in print or on TV isn’t it. Enabling the distributed world … now that’s it.