Sunday, June 26, 2005

Knowing Where to Start ...

Have you ever thought about something for so long, so intensely and so obsessively, that you’ve created an ocean of thoughts inside your own head, with its own ebb and flow, spring and neap, to the point where when you’re asked to speak about it, you just don’t know where to begin?

This is precisely where I find myself today. Somewhere in 2001, I sensed, rather than understood that a series of tectonic changes were afoot, in Media. Tectonic not just because of their seismic impact but also because of their subterranean nature and superficial invisibility.

Over the past few years I have held a thousand strands of this change in my head, trying to weave them into a coherent picture – a task a long way from completion. May be the assumption of a coherent whole needs challenging. This blog is an attempt to give these individual tendrils of thought their own due, without subsuming them into some visionary whole. May be doing this will initiate a debate which will give me some of the answers. May be just organizing my thoughts for communicating to you will be a key force for me to understand it better myself. May be these thoughts will simply find fruition as distinct and discrete elements not requiring the grand synthesis.

One of the reasons I jumped at the opportunity to move to London, when it presented itself, was the chance to be at one of the media epicenters of the world. London is unique in its media density – a fact often missed by people who have spent a long time here and have no reason to reflect on the alternatives. The tapestry of media in London is enriched by the cultural diversity paralleled only, perhaps, by New York. And the presence of institutions such as the BBC, which create an entirely new dimension to the media discussion – every discussion about the BBC invariably ends up as a discussion on very fundamental questions about the role of media in a democracy, the need for free speech and the cost of information in any society.

At the same time the changes I speak about are all around us – in the way media is produced, delivered and consumed. These changes are crudely speaking, technological. But there is a very exciting and emerging interplay between technology and culture which consistently impacts Media in non-linear and complex ways. Is the iPod about technology or culture? Is Time-shifting a technology phenomenon or a behaviour change?

To understand these changes is hard enough. To predict outcomes is near impossible. But the very fact that Media continues to play an increasingly central role in all our lives makes the outcomes significant and the understanding vital to our ability to influence our own lives.

In this blog, I hope to be able to record my observations, identify patterns and initiate meaningful discussions about what these changes are, how to understand them better, and what their impact on us might be.


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