Break free of the bonds of media

On PaidContent, Staci reports:

Wish I had a $100 — heck, make that $1,000 — for every time “multi-platform” was used during the q-and-a with Tom Freston, co-COO of the current Viacom and CEO in waiting of the new Viacom that could debut in January. (Maybe the slogan could be “Viacom, the new, the proud, the multi-platform.”)

I’ll take it one step further: You don’t want to be multiplatform. You want to be unplatform. This isn’t just a nerdy view — being the Unix or Java of open-source entertainment that enables anyone to create anything anywhere and distribute it anywhere… though that’s not a bad start.

No, this is about giving up the notion that your business is about controlling distribution deals or content creation — all very restrictive relationships that keep you from doing things because the other party wants control, too. That is why it’s so damned hard to take what you put on TV and put it on the internet and on phones and serve the people wherever they want to be served. Right?

So imagine what life looks like in a world where you give up control and avoid the control freaks, where you see all kinds of great content being created everywhere and no end of people who want to find the good stuff. In the old 1.0 days, you would have asked — you are probably asking — how you can “get in the middle” of that and cause friction and take your cut. In the 2.0 days, I’d advise instead that you follow the advice of my friend Craig Newmark and just get out of the way. Oh, sure, Craig’s not running a business the size of the newspaper classified industry. But he’s growing and they’re not.

So what if you help people create and distribute? What if you provide content to remix and some of the tools and know-now to do it? What if you share promotion and, yes, ad revenue? What if you don’t try to own 100 pieces of content but recognize your value in contributing to the success of 10,000 pieces? What’s your real value then? Owning? Or enabling? Restrictions? Or reputation?

Is that all a bunch of future-shock bull? Of course, it is. And you don’t want to do anything to upset the cash cow. But I am hearing media folks realizing that the old structures and strategies won’t work in the post-scarcity, post-control world. So maybe the way to come up with new strategies is not to coddle the cash cow but to shoot the bull. Think unplatform.