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Media Is Not Culture

(December 06, 2006) Why is there such an enormous explosion in blogs and self-publishing? The technologists will tell you that it's simply a question of capacity: people are blogging because they can. The increased availability of the technology is the cause of the phenomenon.

We're not so sure.

The impact of demographics on social trends can never be understated. Technologies live and die based not on their inherent worthiness but on the willingness of the market to accept them. Understanding and meeting a need (or sometimes creating one) is what makes new ideas gain traction. Demographics underlie and facilitate the process.

There are three major demographic trends driving American (and most Western) culture:

  1. Baby Boomers (and the society as a whole) are aging. The average age of the culture is increasing.
  2. The children of the Baby Boomers are reaching the age of majority and becoming the major wage earning group.
  3. Global flows of citizens are making diverse population a reality. In the US, for example, the white population was 80% in 1980, is 70% today and will be 60% by 2015.

With age (generally) comes a shift in focus. AARP suggests that life, post-50, is all about finding meaning, consuming less and focusing on personal fulfillment. From what we can tell, this is the exact same ethic as the current crop of college graduates. Meanwhile, the culture is rapidly becoming bi-lingual as a reality. (The Hispanic population grew from 14 Million to 35 Million between 1980 and 2000.)

Monolithic media (the big TV networks and city newspapers) served the culture well in the days when the culture itself was monolithic. Today, however, the culture is fractured and fragmented, creating the need for micro-publishing. Blogs are here because they suit the real culture and its microniches.

The fragmentation and change is just beginning.

Don't forget to check out the blogs on bert.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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