I SPENT HALF A DAY talking about the battle between our growth-oriented technology culture and the disruption-prone entertainment industry. The conversation arises on the back of TWIT 332 in the audio clip below and Paul Graham's call for a tech startup that would kill Hollywood.
Graham wants shot of Hollywood. “The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.”
Alexia Tsotsis (her poster at left) asked Paul Graham what he thinks people are going to be doing for fun in 20 years instead of what they do now. A lot of smart people in the tech industry thinks the best part of our online lives will involve “something like Zynga.” That's good news for the software developers on the Games and Culture module I teach at the Limerick Institute of Technology.
The YCombinator crew sees "a lot more games. Zynga type games are likely only the start. Console video games are already essentially interactive movies. Smartphones and tablets are making games more accessible than ever, in the future it’ll be bizarre to think that people ever purchased devices with the single function of loading games from a disc."
During their final year, I ask our fourth year students to place a "long bet" on something they believe will be in their lives in five years. In Ireland, it's easy because you just look at what's a paid service in California and you might think that same service could land in Ireland after a five-year proof-of-concept in the States. It's a lot harder to predict what people will spend their time and money on in 2032. If I'm around, I'll have to look at my blog to see what I was extrapolating.
I think whatever I'm doing with my discretionary entertainment spending, it's not going to involve walking down to Xtra-Vision to rent a DVD.
I've never minded watching Hollywood stories. I also like reading Silicon Valley start-up stories and long reads emanating from the New York media industry. It's my hope that in 20 years, I will find all those stories bundled together in a playlist I've created to play on a 10-year old television set.
As Alexia Tsotsis says, "All three industries feed each other, one provides the content, one (increasingly) provides the distribution and the other covers it all, with some interchange of roles between all three. What is happening now (and what Graham might be conflating) is that there is a conflict between who controls distribution versus production."
It's also true that the loudest voices in the content industry will refuse to read the parts of the 72-page indictment against Mega Upload where an obvious business model appears. The indictment documents how people are willing to actually pay for high-quality streaming content. The indictment demonstrates that Hollywood's outmoded distribution model can't hold a candle to responsive online media services.
While the District Court indictment will probably kill Mega Upload, it would be unjust to mow down all of Hollywood because the crative talent holed up there are essential players in producing the cinematic portrayal of the human narrative.
As Andy Ihnatko and Nelay Patel calmly say on TWIT 332, both the entertainment and technology industries have valid arguments with regards to digital rights. The two industries have different funding models and neither can exist by leveraging the other’s business processes. They live and grow inside radically different cultures.
And it's nearly impossible for Hollywood to easily reinvent itself like the tech industry does every five years. I'm on the long road and I want to look back in January 2032 to see where that road has taken my media interests.
What kind of media diet do you think Hollywood will serve me in 20 years?
Clerk of the District Court, Alexandria, Virginia -- Megaupload Indictment, January 5, 2012. It's a 72-page PDF.