I have been meaning to write this for a while and after all my screwing around with gadgets and technology, I decided to get back on topic. So Edge of the Network Content...
Traditionally content has been created from the centers of media production that reside in places like New York and Los Angeles and come in the form of movie studios, or record labels, or book publishers. These centers of media aggregate ideas, stories, songs etc. then coax and refine the product and pump it into massive distribution channels called TV stations, or retail stores, or radio stations, or movie theaters.
Because there is so much machinery involved, it is very important to feed the monster. Movie budgets can run to the $100 of millions of dollars. That's for production. Then you throw in another $50+ million for marketing etc. and you can see how this is a high risk proposition. And for every Spiderman 2 you get a dozen or so Alamo's.
In the world where you control the machinery, its ok for this to happen. Well sort of. But all that editorial aside, there is a new trend that points the way to a more viable long term model. Content at the edge of the network.
What is this content? This is content made by a small group of people, with little money(relatively speaking) that is designed for a targeted group of people. An example of this would be Spike and Mike festivals. This sicko film festival was the spawning grounds for shows like Beavis and Butthead and Southpark, and many others. This stuff wasn't created by the machines, it was created by people who were targeting another group of people and it happened to get the attention of the machinery and became a big hit.
So that's kind of straightforward, but other examples that are less obvious are things like the game CounterStrike. Counterstrike is a mod to Half Life. The creators of Half Life designed a game that allowed others to modify it to create their own versions of 'capture the flag' or save the hostage as it were. Ultimately the mod was as or arguably more popular than the original. Again, this was content that was created at the edge and was subsequently pushed to the center of the network.
By now you get my point, I think the same applies to things like blogging, indie music websites, underground art, things like the Suicide Girls, etc. But thinking about this is interesting in that its obvious for a TV show, or movie, or a game to blow up. And arguably the whole Howard Dean movement speaks to the power of blogging. The question I ask myself is what is/are the models for media in the future?
My theory is this: Create a platform that can facilitate the development of edge of the network publication. When you have created this platform, mine the data to spot the trends. When trends seem to emerge, cross reference similar groups and market the product to like minded groups. See if there is a favorable response. If there is, market the hell out of it.
So great theory. How do you do it? I am thinking about that every single day.