As winter turns to spring, media forms morph into hybrids and evolve. Change is everywhere, and 10 and 20 years from now media and the ways we consume it will reach new levels. Take the evolution of music. First there were records, then there were tapes, then 8-tracks, cd’s and now iTunes and iPods and storing music on a cloud…things have changed a lot. Every type of media is experiencing its own metamorphosis, and there are always a few more on the horizon.
Hamish McKenzie came up with a method that could transform the way magazines are digitally consumed http://bit.ly/Hcnxpc. Currently digital versions are an exact copy of the print version and each magazine has a different app, some issues come in at 500 MB. McKenzie’s version turns magazines into an a la carte offering, with issues broken up into stories. His model follows the Spotify model and uses a ’Mag Reader’ app. When it opens you are met with a list of latest works from your favorite publications and stories that align with your interests. Each story has a relevancy rating, clicking on it gives you a preview, shows recommendations, provides links to similar stories and lists other stories by the publisher. Additionally, this app has a social media element. Users have profiles displaying their recently read and recommended stories along with their favorite magazines, writers and interests. Readers can follow other readers and discover news stories through those connections. Each writer has a profile too, so readers can see new stories and make contributions to future suggested stories. Publishers have brand pages, similar to Facebook, where you can view content and subscribe to bundled content. ‘Mag Reader’ would host third-party apps with curated reading lists and the reading experience would be Kindle-style. Readers can highlight passages and look up words, authors can update their works and readers can post comments. Ads would be placed in individual stories for more targeted approaches, and magazines would make money from $10-a-month buffet-style subscription models where revenue is split between platform owner and publisher. An interesting concept, but what portion of the money from each story would the writer get? Would there be specialty groups and forums based on readers with common interests?
Another hybrid focuses on the Facebook newsfeed emerging as a personalized newspaper http://dthin.gs/HQR1EO. Interest lists are soon to be the newest thing to hit Facebook. Similar to Twitter Lists, where users can organize their feeds to follow other users based on select criteria, Facebook appears to be following and pushing it up a notch. Facebook recently streamlined its Friends list, which determines newsfeed content, and has made it easy to subscribe to someone’s feed without friending them, unsubscribe from their feed and even unfriend them. Facebook’s interest lists are more focused on organizing newsfeed content related to a user’s interests at the top of the page. It also appears to be another way to find out what users are interested in without seeing their liked content. This allows for more targeted approaches, while allowing users to customize their newsfeed into more than just a friends feed. A model like this would be highly competitive with newspapers, as print editions are far less flexible and broad than an individual user’s newsfeed. Facebook’s interest lists build on the transformation of news from a stagnant fixed copy to a constantly shifting, evolving medium. With this concept, even the way we define news becomes highly individualized. If news shifts to this format, would reporters and news organizations see any profits other than viewership? Also, its broad scope heightens the risk of incomplete and incorrect information. How will companies and brands protect themselves?
Both of these models offer up unique hybrids to familiar media formats. Media metamorphosis has the potential to save outdated, dying mediums and breathe life into them. However, it does not come without a price. Each faces the challenge of merging the old and new into a revamp that adds new fans while keeping old ones. A delicate balance for anyone to achieve. Striking that balance is like finding gold. Yet, as gold seekers abound, media metamorphosis will continue.