Mass Media Or Mass Content – What's Worse?

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I remember listening to David Weinberger (co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, author of Everything Is Miscellaneous and Small Pieces Loosely Joined, and Blogger over at Joho The Blog) speak, and he said something that changed my perspective on Blogs. For a long while, I was on a kick where I thought that people should only Blog if they have something unique to say. I don’t know how the conversation came up, but David made a comment to me about how anybody and everybody should Blog. There’s no set bar and all thoughts, ideas and stories should be treated equally.

It was a very powerful moment for me, because I realized that your stories may not be important to me, but they are important to someone (even if it’s just yourself). Blogging is a great way to put all ideas out there… and maybe, all Blogs and ideas are created equally. Maybe the amount of readers, comments and links is the "old way" of measuring success.

Maybe, just sharing the Blog thought is everything, and nothing else matters.

As I sit here in Mexico City as guest of IAB – Interactive Advertising Bureau – Mexico for their IAB Conecta 2008 annual summit, I’m surrounded by passionate people. They’re Blogging in Spanish, they’re sharing their ideas and – like all of us – they are surrounded by huge publishing companies and media empires. I’m talking huge ones (keep in mind, Mexico City is one of the most populated cities in the world – over twenty million strong)… and I’ve never even heard of most of these media companies (why would I… they’re regional).

The people attending this event (Marketers, ad agency folk, brands, suppliers, etc…) are faced with the exact same challenges we all face everyday. If you’re reading this, you probably believe that the future of media is not Mass Media. If mass media does go away, what’s left? Everyone is able to produce, share and distribute their own content. The syndication comes in the form of RSS (where the receiver "subscribes" and receives all updates as they happen). Instead of Mass Media, we now have Mass Content.

How do we win?

Is the "win" in the fact that we choose what we want, how we want it and control how the content flows? Is the "win" in the personalization of everything?

I was looking at my Twitter feed and realized that I am lost. I’m following five hundred people, but if I step away for a hour, I simply can’t effectively catch-up, and even if I could, the conversational aspect of it has already moved on – replaced by even more tweets and stuff to ponder. Basically, I’m more media saturated than ever before. Being ruthless with what I follow doesn’t seem like a viable option either. There’s just too many smart people out there that I am interested in following, sharing and commenting on.

Don’t even get me started on FriendFeed.

But, I don’t comment and share as much as I would like to. I skim, graze and peruse everything. Because there is so much Mass Content, I’m beginning to feel like I’m not even able to give the truly great stuff the time it well deserves.

And, all of this got me thinking: what’s worse: Mass Media or Mass Content?


  1. Mass Media or Mass content?
    Maybe the two aren’t as different as we make it out to be.
    The key to both can be seen in the levels of trust, authority or respect that we have with people.
    I read your blog but I skim many others. Yours has a higher level of trust in my eyes, you offer me consistent value and I offer you my attention.
    Getting lost is easy, that’s why we gravitate to tools that allow us to build trust. I’m sure that even more tools will allow us to connect even better than now.
    With scarce attention, “mass” isn’t important, relationships are.

  2. Being new(er) to the Social Media realm, this concept is one I can totally identify with at the moment. Trying to sort through which blogs to read, who do I follow, what is a “friend”, all these questions. There is just so much content out there. Great content that I can only ingest a little of.
    For me, I’m taking in what I can and I think for each of us, it is a matter of finding a balance and finding the things that provide the most value for each of our individual lives. At this point, I’m just trying to learn as much as I can and I couldn’t do it without blogs like this one, or Jaffe Juice, Managing the Gray, etc.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I agree with the idea that the value of the content on the web is determined by each individual poster and reader. I have started posting on a blog of my own and am quite certain that no one is reading it yet, but I still get a lot out of simply putting my thoughts out there.
    I also get a lot out of commenting. It doesn’t mean that my expectation is to get a response from each of the posters to whom I add a comment, I’m simply trying to add my perspective and hope that someone out there can get something from it.

  3. Though I share you frustrations with the diversity of things to keep up on, I still think Mass Media is “worse.”
    It’s theoretically possible for “normal” people (that is, people not paid to stay on top of every movement in the social media space) to be ruthless about self-filtering.
    I, on the other hand, share your frustration about finding myself in perpetual grazing land. Used to comment and interact all the time; now I just struggle to knock down window after window full of tabs. *sigh.

  4. I am a recent subscriber to your podcast (I am just about to start episode 99 – I am catching up!) Thanks to you, and Seth Godin, I am starting to make the plunge into REALLY utilizing the resources at my disposal to tap into the vast pool of human creativity and innovation that is made real by this new web 2.0. I ADORE Google Reader (I literally just set up an account today) and I already find it a good filter to get up to date info on the sites I really enjoy.
    I agree with you – too much just makes you loose your mind. At this point I have about 20 feeds, and will definitely keep my mind open to other interesting things as they pop up. I will also gauge by the volume of content I can consume, and adapt accordingly.
    Keep up the excellent work!!!

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