On Friday Mike Walsh visited me at the Spil Games Asia office to catch up and to do another video interview (wanted to put link here to a documentary he made last year for which he also interviewed me, but cannot find it right now) . Mike is a key note speaker on the digital future and CEO of innovation research agency Tomorrow, and he seems to travel constantly all over the world (he arrived Friday in Shanghai and I just saw on his picture feed that he is now in New York already). And now he is also an author: his book Futuretainment will be published officially tomorrow (according to Amazon.com) and he gave me a copy during our meeting.
This weekend I read the book and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. The book is extremely well designed by Vince Frost of Frost*Design, with illustrations and full page pictures on every page throughout the book. The book is about the end of traditional media and how changing consumer behavior is forcing business models to change. Mike cut the book into 23 chapters discussing small parts of the media revolution that’s happening around us. As an illustration, some of the titles of the chapters are Network, Ubiquity, Crowd, Social, Viral, Lifecast, Tag, Platform and Disrupt. Each chapter consists of short articles that explain the changes using lots of real life examples. These examples make it an interesting read, also for people who are less involved in new and social media than I am.
The book starts off talking about the fact that people’s relationship with technology is changing and that because of this entertainment will never be the same. The book is about what will happen next. It focuses partly on trends and user behavior in Asia to predict what will eventually happen in the rest of the world. The current young generation knows no life without Internet, so they expect to be in control of their entertainment. They don’t understand why a TV programming schedule would be useful: linear programming is over, you watch something when you want, not when others decide that for you. The world is changing because of this. While the industry was trying to come up with better photo and video cameras, the younger generation started taking pictures and shooting films with low resolution phone cameras. It turned out that high quality is not necessary anymore. They also do not want to just watch a clip, but want to be able to change it themselves (mediajacking is what Mike calls it).
Another part of the book is about viral distribution, how this works and how you can (or cannot) influence it. How do you find new content? Through your online connections: Who you know is what you know. Friendships change, a friend is no longer a noun but a verb: you don’t make a friend, but you friend someone. It also touches on why people are willing to spend so much money on virtual items online: The more we live, work and play online, the more important it will be that we invest in the way we represent ourselves online. Lifecasting is the subject of a chapter, the trend to broadcast your life to the world, either through Twitter or by posting your pictures or even live video online.
One thing many traditional broadcasters do not seem to grasp is that it’s not about the content anymore. What really counts is the context, the stuff that surrounds it: reviews, recommendations and ratings. Those are the things that make people watch content, not big marketing campaigns anymore. The book ends with scenarios for the future of TV, movies, music and games. I agree with most of Mike’s future visions for these sectors, he really thought them through. Marcel Fenez (PWC’s global partner for Media and Entertainment) just did an in-depth interview with me about the future of TV, and I am glad to see that the things I told him are in line with Mike’s conclusions. Mike actually takes it one step further than I had in mind, saying that broadcast channels will be designed to drive traffic to a website instead of the other way around. An interesting thought.
I’d recommend the book to anyone active in traditional media who wants to understand better what is hitting the industry and where it may lead to. But it’s also a good read for people in New Media, they will still find a lot of new insights in it and get more background on how media and user behavior evolved. And it’s a good book for the general public that wants to understand what shift is happening because of the Internet. You don’t need any previous Internet knowledge to understand it. The book is easy to read and has lots of good real life examples. And the great design andh pictures throughout the book make it an en even more enjoyable read.