The increasing richness of memorial media is a powerful by-product of accelerating change in technology, information and communication. In five years time, both broad public-facing and private 3d memorial media has a good chance of taking off, gradually catalyzing a shift in the way we interact with history and our dearly departed.
How do we properly remember and honor the dead? Our cultural answer to this question has changed over the millennia alongside with the invention of memory-enhancing technologies such as symbols, spoken language, writing, photography, video, digital information and the web.
Now the trend continues as powerful new disruptors such as social media, semantic search, virtual worlds and mirror worlds allow us to assemble, aggregate and interact with information about the dearly departed in surprising new ways.
On the most basic level, crowd-edited text-based structures like Wikipedia have already catalyzed an explosion of biographical data capture and made possible a growing niche of specialized human memorial websites.
Similarly, account-driven portals like Geanealogy.com’s Virtual Cemetery Project, MyCemetery, and World Gardens have been growing in popularity and each lay claim to being “The World’s First Online Memorial and Virtual Cemetery” or such.
In the physical world, progressive cemetery Hollywood Forever, which boasts the densest concentration of celebrity gravesites, has sparked a media memorial trend by displaying actors’ hilight reels beside their tombs. (Yes, for a pretty steep price you too can purchase your very own Lifestories Kiosk.)
A Zogby poll
released last week shows that ” two thirds of Americans – 67% –
believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news.”
The same survey found that “two thirds (64%) are dissatisfied
with the quality of journalism in their communities.”
The culprit? Of course it’s the web. According to Zogby “nearly
a third (32%) said Internet sites are their most trusted source for
news and information, followed by newspapers (22%), television
(21%) and radio (15%).”
Having spent time in the small-town newspaper world and online
media, consider me utterly unsurprised: traditional print media is
Paper and printing costs are expensive. Distribution costs are
significant. Physical offices cost a lot of money. Good, motivated,
and affordable local writers are very hard to find.
Yes, it will take a while for those used to reading their daily
paper to make the switch to digital, but that day will come.
Computer interfaces will become more user-friendly and less taxing
on the eyes.
Cell phones with mini-projectors will allow for simple and
elegant web surfing anywhere. Vested local bloggers, photographers
and videographers will produce and aggregate much richer
information than a small team of paid reporters. Paper will go up
in price as the environmental costs are factored in.
Now, this does not mean that the companies that own newspapers
will necessarily go out of business. Rather, they’ll be converted
into social media companies with digital distribution.
The form of this distribution may even closely resemble that of
a traditional newspaper. New
electronic paper interfaces will perhaps offer a new way to
experience the same old thing. But no matter how it feels, that
will be a switch to digital distribution that saves the parent
company a hefty sum.
I agree with
Tech Crunch’s Duncan Riley when he predicts that “it will be a
long and slow death”, which he bases in large part on the fact that
“we’re already seeing massive across the board downsizing now in
In your opinion, which year will mark the widespread end of
paper and ink newspaper publishing in the U.S?
Spurred in large part by Barack Obama's unprecedented and extraordinarily successful new media campaign, other national politicians are quickly following suit by embracing YouTube's new dedicated channels for U.S. Senators and House Representatives.
Here's the official word from the YouTube blog:
As the 111th Congress kicks into gear, many of your elected leaders are starting their own YouTube channels. They're posting videos direct from their Washington offices, as well as clips of floor speeches and committee hearings alongside additional behind-the-scenes footage from Capitol Hill. And in conjunction with both the House and Senate, we're launching two new platforms that will help you access your Senator and Representatives' YouTube channels: The Senate Hub (youtube.com/senatehub) and The House Hub (youtube.com/househub).
Though this may not seem like something altogether world-changing considering the explosive use of YouTube, even among politicians, this transition to web content is a rather big deal for several reasons:
1. Selection of the Savvy: Just as the transition to television helped bring telegenic communicators like Kennedy to power, the transition to web video and social media will negatively impact those politicians that are slow to understand, adopt and maximize the use of new technologies. Suvival of the fittest politician will now require new media aptitude and staff atmposphere.
2. More Powerful Communities: National politicians have already figured out how to take advantage of fleets of interns (last time I visited The Hill on a video shoot Blackburn seemed to have 20+ interns at his disposal) that will work for reputation. Now imagine how that will scale online. Candidates who figure out how to build large communities of powerful supporters, idea generators and viral content drivers will have a big edge in campaigns and also in the governing process. Those that can grow the largest, most effective team (we're talking thousands of hard core supporters and interns) will first win the media wars and then the overall effectiveness wars.
How long before President Barack Obama refers to social media as the Fifth Estate?
When I sat down to write this timely piece about the role of social media in government I was hopeful that by calling it "The Fifth Estate" I was about to be somewhat clever and original. Sheesh, was I wrong. A quick search revealed that many bloggers and pundits have in fact been calling social media The Fifth Estate for a while now:
There are in fact hundreds, if not thousands, of references to social media as The Fifth Estate that go back many, many years.
This of course has once again got me thinking that 1) there is truly no such thing as an original idea, especially on a planet inhabited by billions of meme processors all hooked into one global web, and 2) as innocuous as it may seem to us at any given moment, social media is truly a breakthrough phenomenon that is absolutely critical to convergent acceleration.