I caught the above on Faris’ blog as part of a post on read-write culture. it’s from the brilliant TED, where here Larry Lessig makes the case for a revision of copyright law, in order to negotiate a truce between two sides: on one, the corporations who create original content and seek to protect it in every possible way, and on the other, a new generation of consumer creators who in response are aggressively challenging copyright law and the very nature of copyright itself.
he argues for a private solution that seeks to legalise (and realise the economic potential) of competition between the two sides, and calls for two changes:
1. that artists expect and permit their work to be made more freely available (for example in cases where it’s not for commercial gain)
2. that businesses embrace this opportunity, allowing the ecologies of corporate and consumer creation to co-exist
it’s a theme that any TV channel controller or magazine publisher (and indeed any editor / aggregator of advertiser-funded content) should be familiar with; how to retain a relevant place in the world as audiences fragment not just to other media channels but to content created by other consumers.
but there’s also a clear consequence for advertisers in this evolution. if consumers (especially younger tech-savvy ones) are essentially disintermediating broadcast channels and sharing content to each other via their participatory networks, then it follows that advertisers and the brand communications they deploy must seek to engage with these new cultural read-writers within the networks.
as far back as 1991, W. Russell Neuman observed that "The new developments in horizontal, user-controlled media that allow the user to amend, reformat, store, copy, forward to others and comment on the flow of ideas do not rule out mass communications. Quite the contrary, they complement the traditional mass media" (for more see here). Henry Jenkins in Convergence Culture agrees:
"…convergence culture is highly generative: some ideas spread top down, starting with commercial media … others emerge bottom up from various sites of participatory culture and getting pulled into the mainstream … The power of grassroots media is that it diversifies; the power of broadcast media is that it amplifies."
smart advertisers will utilise and integrate both grassroots diversity and broadcast media to communicate their brands; not only to fundamentally communicate with both broad aggregations of audience, but more importantly to be full participants in this re-emergence of the re-write culture.
we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface – think about Carphone Warehouse’s sponsorship of the X-factor; which populates their idents (broadcast amplification) with audio clips from viewers (grassroots diversity). there’s clearly much further to go, but some brands have started. the question for every other advertiser remains; do you want to participate in the remixed culture or not? it’s not, when you think about it, a question at all.