Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dan Lyons talks tablet revolution in Newsweek


Under the banner headline "The Hype Is Right Apple's tablet will reinvent computing" Dan, aka Fake Steve, talks about the inevitability of the iPad (or whatever it will be named) and the impact it will have on media, creativity and life in general. Here are a few key graphs:

For people like me, who produce content, this change is both great and scary. Great because the techies in Silicon Valley are giving us powerful new tools for telling stories. Scary because the old ways of telling stories are about to become obsolete, and if we cling to them, we'll be washed away. In the past we've all worked in silos. "Print people" had one way of describing the world. "Video people" had another. But the silos are getting crunched together. It's as if for most of your life you could get by speaking only English, but now you need to learn a bunch of other old languages, and, what's more, you must then master a new language that is evolving out of the DNA of all the old ones.

This is phase two of media on the Internet. Until now, in phase one, we've used this new platform to do the same old thing. We take stories from newspapers and magazines and put them on Web sites. We publish books on Kindle. We put TV shows and movies on Hulu or YouTube. This is what happens when a new medium emerges. When TV first came out, the networks hired radio stars like Milton Berle and produced variety shows—radio with a camera. Over time, people like Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law), David Chase (The Sopranos), and Larry David (Seinfeld) came along and created a new way of telling stories. Oddly enough, those three guys were born within a few years of each other, in the 1940s, just as TV was getting started.

The Internet today is a lot like TV circa 1950. But we are about to take an evolution-ary leap. That's why all this hand-wringing over the dying newspaper business is so misplaced. In 10 years the print newspapers we have today will seem as quaint and primitive as those old Uncle Miltie shows. Heck, the Internet we have today will seem quaint and primitive too. Chances are the cool stuff won't come from people my age (I'm nearly 50) but from the kids who are growing up with these digital tools the way Bochco, Chase, and David grew up with Uncle Miltie.
Keep thinking bigger. And bigger. If you see a gatekeeper, imagine what could be when the lock is busted.

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