Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 15, 2008 6:50 PM

Will All Media Go Digital By 2014?

"I want to make a bet with you today. By January 2014 I will wager that in the US almost all forms of tangible media will either be in sharp decline or completely extinct. I am not just talking about print, but all tangible forms of media - newspapers, magazines, books, DVDs, boxed software and video games."

That is how Steve Rubel started the post, The End of Tangible Media is Clearly in Sight, on his Micro Persuasion Blog yesterday (BTW, if you're not reading Rubel, you really should).

After running through a bunch of recent news items about how certain media are shifting to digital-only platforms, he continued to say:

"Finally, if you need further proof, when was the last time you bought a CD? Exactly. For me it was back in 2003. I haven't purchased a newspaper in at least two years and the number of people who I see toting them on my morning train have declined too. I cancelled my last print subscription this month and I am now living 100% 'media green.' Also I recently signed up for Safari Books Online and I am liking it a lot, though it's pricey and their iPhone client needs a lot of work."

We all drink from the same water cooler, and it's important to not fall into the, "I haven't bought a magazine in two years... so everyone else will stop too," line of thinking. If you are reading this, odds are you are a very early adapters and while the Web, RSS and digital-on-demand is part of our DNA (or, at least, slowly taking over), take a long hard look at the overall mass population (even look are family, friends and colleagues), and what they do. RSS is not exactly cracking through mainstream (as Steve pointed out), and as much as we all love Twitter, most people do not get it.

Media will shift and it will evolve.

There's also little doubt that as technology gets faster and more readily available, more and more content will also be available through the existing (and soon-to-be-coming) digital devices. As Blogged about a couple of days ago here: Digital Is The Great Disrupter, every industry that has seen their physical products shift to digital have gone through tremendous turmoil. Won't it be interesting to see which types of "physical" devices we'll need for all of this digital media?

Lastly, how "green" will this really be? The last time I checked, there are no organic battery farms anywhere and electricity and electronics are a huge part of our ongoing challenge to truly be a little greener. For us to consume all of this mass media is going to create a new kind of waste, which is going to have an environmental impact on all of us.

Shel Holtz over at the always-amazing, For Immediate Release - The Hobson And Holtz Report Podcast, is known to say, "new media doesn't kill old media."

What do you think? Will all media be digital by 2014?

By Mitch Joel