So, let’s review.
Big tech/startup-y/social media whiz-bang hulaboo company starts up it’s business. People seem to like it. It grows customers. Social/emerging/new media spreads it wildly. More people come in. Bloggers start to write about it. Progressive tech publications pick it up. Video blogs run clips and interviews. The business grows to a larger audience. The media formally known as mainstream comes in.
But what’s still the mostly widely accepted of success for one of these companies or the individuals that run them still come down to? Newspapers – sure a WSJ or NYTimes article is great, but since most of those publications are digital now, it’s not like it used to be. Radio? Maybe if you’ve been granted life on an NPR program. But, what never fails to get people excited?
Yes, television, that flickering “box” that has displayed a pre-programmed and limited set of images every night somewhere in America (and indeed most of the world) for more than 70 years.
Regular old television, that supposedly dying media which will someday completely replaced by Hulu, AppleTV, Roku boxes, TiVo, NetFlix on-demand, Boxee, WebTV and about 50 other companies reinventing the business of television, not to mention their lesser successful rivals.
And let me say, they have. And they are. And they will.
But the minute these companies have a breakthrough on “television” – a set time, on a set channel, where someone outside of their direct sphere of influence has selected them to be newsworthy for 45 seconds. Maybe 2 minutes. Maybe even half hour. Because, it still has value to the rest of the world, including, as much as they (we) loathe to admit to this, the 2% or less of the world who lives their entire lives in the digital space.
Most of the people of the Internet age grew up watching it. Cartoons. Movies. Sitcoms. And to be on television then was by all means “making it”. Fewer channels, fewer shows, higher ratings. And many more made it, directly in broadcast, but more personally with home video cameras. Roving videos. Mock talkshows. Other sorts of silliness. But these were making videos. This was as close as we could come to television.
And we still do make video. It’s quicker, cheaper, faster than more impactful. But it’s not television. Nor is television just video.
Watching someone, who lives the same ordinary life we do, be on television is still an emotional reaction. The first response is “they’ve made it”. Anyone can be in a video – but television, is preselected. More channels, more options, and less quality as a whole, but that emotional reaction has never changed. And that’s why, at least to me, television will never be completely dead. Because it’s still being recognized. Plucked from the life of obscurity and our own realms, to be seen, heard and understand, by someone who has the ability to decide that we are ourselves worthy of the right.
The only thing that’s changed is the color of the box we watch it on.