…for all to see, in black and white…
“Yes, there are more producers of video content. That content will continue to grow/explode. But I will not have time or energy to watch more than a few each day. Sorting through the videos will be impossible. That is more true for the general public. They will never sort through the millions of video posts produced each day.”
So writes Eric Blumer, who wrote below and I think works at CBS. And he is right. There will soon be millions of people making videos and posting them, and millions and millions of videos available to see. Who will have the time to look at them?
To address this question, I think it is instructive to take a look at the impact of the arrival of the printing press, immediately after that technology was invented; and look at how that technology percolated out into society. ….Which is now so much in parallel with where we are in the world of online video.
In 1456, the year Gutenberg first put paper to movable type, books were a rarity in the world. Scholars could travel for days to libraries that contained a mere handful of hand-written volumes. They were painfully expensive and in a lifetime most people might never see a book in their lives, save the one the priest held up and read in church on Sundays.
Forty years later, in just one generation, there were more than fifteen million books in circulation in Europe.
Think of the impact this must have had on people at the time.
Reared in a world of 4 or 5 titles at most, they must have been overwhelmed by the sudden explosion in books around them. For the vast majority of them, (and particularly those in the priesthood), they must have wondered “who will have time to read all of these?”
Of course, no one did, or had to, or wanted to. No more than you might be overwhelmed when you walk into a Barnes and Nobles and see 3 or 4 thousand titles before you. You don’t think that this makes the world of a free press unworkable. We have come of age in a print-rich world, but we have also come of age in an era of video poverty. That is about to come to an end. What will be the impact of this sudden explosion of ‘video literacy’?
Here is a quote from Sebastian Brandt, written just after 1500:
In our time, thanks to the talent and industry of those from the Rhine, books have emerged in lavish numbers. A book that once would’ve belonged only to the rich — nay, to a king — can now be seen under a modest roof. … There is nothing nowadays that our children … fail to know.*
Does this sound familiar?
What Brandt did not know, (and what we already know but perhaps cannot yet acknowledge) was that the Gutenberg Revolution was going to quickly unwind and destroy Medieval society and all its institutions. I think we can expect the same thing to happen to our own world, except here you may substitute NBC or Viacom for The Catholic Church. What the printing press did to Medieval Society, the Video Revolution is going to do to our own world.
And, just as the Gutenberg Revolution impacted on every aspect of society, so too can we expect the same sort of impact across every aspect of our own world. And politics is no exception. As the printed word brought down The Divine Right of Kings (the Consitution is a printed document), so too will Youtube and the video revolution change our way of government. This is inevitable, even if it seems unthinkable.
As the ‘power of television’ is placed in average people’s hand’s, the shattering impact of the “Nixon-Kennedy Debate” in 1960 will be but a taste of what is to come.
We are indeed only at the very beginning of The Revolution.
Ironically, for almost 20 years after Gutenberg, people used the printing press solely to reproduce books that had already been written, albeit by hand. You can see the same thing happening in the ‘video revoultion’. So far, places like CBS ‘Inner Tube’ can only see the web as a place to reproduce what they already do on air. When they and other broadcasters crack open the door a bit to ‘User Generated Video” it is only for material that apes what the broadcasters do already, (ie, if you happen to have a video camera nearby when a tornado hits your trailer, send it to us).
We are nowhere near the end of this.
Indeed, as Churchill said, “It is not the end. It is not even at the beginning of the end. It is, however, the end of the beginning”.
*and here is am indebted to Prof. John Lienhard.