Will traditional mass-media still have its place in society 10 years from now? This is a question I began asking myself after the death of what many consider the last true worldwide pop-icon Michael Jackson. MJ could have only reached such super-stardom through mass-media, utilizing a limited set of media channels aimed at massive nationwide audiences. Clearly with the rapid growth of the internet, digital technologies, and social media, the so called long-tail of media is in effect. The clout that mass media companies once had with traditional media is withering away as people continue to interact on the web through blogs, social bookmarking sites, message boards, micro-blogs, social networks etc. searching for more customized, niche based sources of media. This leaves us with a very fragmented and highly targeted consumer culture online.
What I come to question then is what happens when this sort of consumer niche seeking activity carries over into offline social interaction in the real world. Ten-Twenty years from now, will each individual become so niche focused and spread across such a diverse set networks that some basic commonality is lost? If we take this long tail effect to the extreme, we would end up with a society that seems to lack a broad set of common interests. This is why I believe that traditional media or mass media may never completely disappear. Lets face it, in many cases people want to be told what to like. They need common interest to relate and share with strangers. They want to join the crowd and share in large-scale community experiences. In some cases push-based marketing may still prove to be successful.
Then again, millions of people are joining social networks each month. Will Facebook become the next form of mass-media? What are your thoughts?