What The World Needs Now Is More Media Hackers

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Do you think that traditional mass media companies are really going to invent the future of media?

It doesn’t look good for them. You can say that it’s somewhat ironic that a column like this might appear in The Huffington Post. While this site is often cited as one of the great disrupters of traditional journalism and media, it’s more ideologically aligned with the culture of hacking than it is with the evolution of journalism. No, we’re not talking about the the type of hacking that caused cyber attacks on Sony‘s PlayStation Network or the mythical characters Anthony Weiner blamed when he tweeted out pictures of his own wiener. If you look at the true definition of a hacker, what you’ll uncover is that there is one pejorative and one complimentary description of the term. The more complimentary description from Wikipedia states: "someone messing about with something in a positive sense, that is, using playful cleverness to achieve a goal." 

Hacking away at something in small chunks or reprogramming bits and pieces of the media is what will define the future of media.

On May 23rd, 2011 a Blog post titled, Reporting live from the scene of breaking news…on an iPhone, from the Nieman Journalism Lab Blog went mostly unnoticed. It’s too bad. It turns out that a company called, TieLine Technology, released an iPhone app called, Report-It Live, that enables reporters, announcers or anyone else for that matter to record, broadcast and manage field reporting. While that might not sound like a big deal, head over to the Nieman Journalism Lab Blog post to hear a sample of what the sound quality difference is like from a standard phone connection being broadcasted over the radio to what their app can produce. It will not only stop you in your tracks – in terms of audio quality – but you’ll wonder why the traditional telecommunications companies never thought of an app this clever.

Quality can come from Hackers too. 

The mistake most media companies make is in thinking that hackers are great for brainstorming and creating crude versions of things, but anything of quality needs a more professional level of finesse and tender loving care to be viable in the modern world. Tell it to the Drudge Report, Craigslist, eBay and yes, even The Huffington Post. All of these initiatives started off with a handful (or less) of people with an idea, a crude mock-up and a hacker’s mindset of tinkering with the media until it becomes something. In some instances, that "something" still looks and feels crude to the traditional mass media professionals (too bad for them).

Rise Media Hacker. Rise.

Every second Tuesday, Media Hacker is going to look at the people, strategies and tactics that are changing the media as we know it today. While many media professionals still grapple with the Web, the revolution in media continues to march forward. From mobile and tablets to cloud computing and newer publishing business models, the media is not only forever changed, it is forever changing. The traditional journalist saw the last period of the last sentence of their piece as the end of the story. The modern journalist sees the last period of the last sentence of their piece as the beginning of the conversation.

Let the conversation begin.

The above posting is my just-launched/twice-monthly column for The Huffington Post called, Media Hacker. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:

One comment

  1. I love this Mitch. Hackers are what make the internet culture so fun to be apart of. They provoke the type of innovation that leads to great things. Jimmy Wales is the ultimate media hacker, and his Wikipedia is something that we’ll look back on decades from now and awe about how this impossible feat was made possible. The answer is hacking.

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