Lifestyles and the Future of Media

First a word to the Philadelphia Inquirer that is taking all kinds of heat for saving their best stuff for print. Smart. Remember, these words, “those who can, do. Those who can’t, blog about what everyone else is doing”

You are on the right track, although finding the right balance is not going to be easy. The problem isnt that newspapers are dying, its that newspapers have a cost structure that prevent them from fluidly adjusting to the marketplace. They cant price based on demand or on the value of what they print and deliver. Unlike the digital world,because of legacy agreements, they have to fight for every change in their work environment which puts them at a huge disadvantage.

Moving on…

I know, and I believe all of us who have fully integrated all the digital media options available to us into our lives also know, what we like to watch, read or listen to on our laptop, desktop, phone, TV, PDA and radio.

I multi-task. Not just sometimes, but for the most part, all the time. Heck, i can even multitask with my PDA or phone, at the gym, in a plane, in a car. There are few places that I can’t or don’t multitask. I also am not a platform bigot. I use the platform to consume what I want, where I want, how I want. I won’t exclude a platform because its not hip, or cool, or popular.

For some reason, unknown to me, there are old timers who apparently limit themselves to just the internet. Techmeme took me here, where the blogger, in reference to the Philly Inquirer, had this to say “They know that the internet is the present and the future and the paper is the past.” Talk about closed minded.

Newspapers and magazines are great places to find in depth coverage of stories. I dont want to read more than 2 pages on an internet site. Given the choice of reading a 3 page article from a PC or from paper. Give me paper every time. Which is why I continue to subscribe to and purchase paper based products.

My lifestyle is such that Im in digital mode probably 10 hours or more a day. I go through a hierarchy of digital consumption that incorporates business first. Which means Im on email continuously. After first checking email, and in between email updates, I go through a process of
1. Must check = which are the 10 or so websites I go to every day to make sure Im on top of everything related to my world.
2. Just in case – Then I go through the RSS feeds, just in case there is something I could use.

3. Be Informed. – Then I go through the non essential things that I want to stay informed about or that I might find interesting. For me, this is where newspapers and maagzines come in. I can grab a bite to eat or get on a bike at the gym and read about things that are interesting to me. Its a break from a digital screen, and for anyone who spends their day working around digital screens knows what I mean. You need a break, but are still in work mode.

4. Mindless mode. Entertainment is an escape for me. I want to disconnect at some level. I still may check my email/PDA for anything that impacts my professional or personal life, put Im going to do my best to enjoy whatever it is in front of me. Whether its playing with my kids, or watching TV.

If Im watching TV, i dont want to have to know what Im looking for, I want to channel surf. Im not going to go on a website to find video to entertain myself., thats far too much work and its not enough of a pay off. If I need to get out of the house, go out with my wife, family, or friends, then Im going to a game,movie, park to disengage as much as I can. I do my best to try to find the best balance of all the above.

I think there are a lot of “pundits” that make the mistake of thinking the above type choices are based on demographics. I dont think they are. I think they are based on lifestyle choices . Some of which that match up to age and demographics.

I think in the broadest brush strokes, I think our lifestyle as it pertains to media can be grouped as following:

Growing Up: Growing up is when your life is all about you and your friends. Your only responsibility is to yourself. Learning about yourself. Having fun. Making friends. Trying to decide what is next. Its during this phase that digital media dominates your life. There is absolutely no reason to manage your time. In this phase, money is worth more than time.

Real World: as long as our job is “growing up”, which we do until we decide that we have a specific goal in mind that we want to accomplish and finally get serious about it. It might be stay at home dad, artist, enterpreneur or who knows what, but at that point in time, we recognize that we have to use our time and resources to reach those goals. How we consume media changes.

One thought on “Lifestyles and the Future of Media

  1. Cool post. I think your thoughts are mostly spot on.

    re: Newspapers/Internet & Paper/Digital Media: In a few years we’ll have digital interfaces that equal the pixel quality of real-life paper (according to Alvy Ray Smith). This will force convergence, not a dichotomy, as you point out. Some old-school newspaper companies will go digital on OLED interfaces. The biz models have yet to be figured out, but one thing’s for sure – the web will spread out into the world. – As things accelerate we’ll get unprecedented convergence that will disrupt many people’s long-term and short-term linear predictions.

    re: your Consumption Hierarchy – I like how you’ve layed that out. It’s very pyramid shaped. I find that I and many of my peers engage in exactly the same sequence of info assimilation. Wonder if someone’s converted such observations into theory. It’s a useful model.

    re: the line between Learning & Real-World consumption styles – That’s very valid and helps to explain why new ideas diffuse most quickly among youth, then spread upwards. When you look at a lot of web apps, especially social stuff like MySpace and Facebok, you see that these are adopted broadly among youth and then only later do the older generations jump on board. Thus, the young with disposable time can do the initial hunting, and the older time-strapped vets can do the vetting.

    Very useful post.

    Comment by Alvis Brigis -

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