by thomasibenton

I am not the first, or the smartest, or the most thorough to observe the massive disaggregation happening to all media in a cadence with technology. As technology builds upon itself exponentially, so does the disaggregation, albeit as a lagging indicator.

If you wanted to distribute a book, you used to need monks to laboriously copy the words by hand–up until printing presses made monasteries unnecessary in the literary business. Eventually printing presses became sufficiently cheap and common to permit firebrands like Thomas Paine (nice name on that fellow, btw) to rouse the rabble with pamphlets. Add in the telegraph, and even seeming limitations of space and time no longer stood as barriers to near immediate knowledge.

The same story applied to “new” media. Used to be, you had three television channels and a few radio stations, the one’s within broadcast distance from your antenna. Then you could get dozens, and then hundreds of television channels on cable. Soon, satellite offered those channels to even those who lived beyond the reach of coax. Radio went satellite, too. The few slots for talking heads and perky voices opened up to permit a few more in. But now you can download more podcasts than any person could listen to in a lifetime, and YouTube has an unwatchable amount of video. There are seemingly more slots for media members than there are media consumers.

When the means of production becomes cheap enough, there really remains nothing for us proletariate to seize. I am blogging on a free account, no seizing required–just registration and a tolerance for the occasional ad. I can publish as many books as I want, should I lower my standards sufficiently, and I can podcast and even shoot video of myself for everyone to watch if I harbored sufficient narcissism.

I am not even close to being the first to observe any of this. The monks no longer stand between me and readers, the television executive no longer blocks the viewers from your show idea, and we all get to be artists if we have the courage. Now the only gatekeepers we need to please are, well, you.