在這一天裡......

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Media, New Movement? By Sharon Cheung

Internet starts sweeping the planet since the 1990s and it is now an integral part of many people‘s live. User behaviors on the internet have been evolving over the last 20 years and we can observe 3 distinctive characteristics out of them. The first characteristic is being the tendency to make use of “Collective Action”. With the increasing penetration of the internet, people are becoming more connected. People with similar thoughts can locate each others with a few clicks of mouse. The internet becomes an ultra cost-effective platform to actualize some unimaginable ideas in the past. A small appeal can be echoed by hundreds of thousands overnight. One recent example is the protest of the G20 Summit in London. With calls for the protests flooded web sites like facebook and MySpace a few days before the summit, hundreds of thousands of protestors from all over Europe actually turned up in London a day before the Summit. Announcement in conference hall streamed to protestors on streets in real time through twitter messaging to their cell phones, making the crowd the most informed and responsive protestors ever. Though some of the collective actions might not have the stamina to sustain, the explosive power is stunning.
The second characteristic is the belief in “free flow of information”. It is almost a norm in the internet world that information has to be free and be shared with others. The first time I visited a movie forum, I was astonished by how many people spent hours uploading the movies and shared them with totally strangers. Those movies can be the latest Chinese, Korean, American or even Indian titles. But one common thing is they are all dubbed with Chinese subtitles, by volunteers! They do not care about piracy infringement. But they don’t expect monetary reward either. It’s not a false claim to say that Internet is a selfless nirvana.

Last but not the least, Internet users enjoy “Participation”. Before the internet era, mass media dictated what message should be relayed to the public, with the voice of Joe Somebody being distorted or filtered by the political stand of the media. Now with youtube, facebook and million of forums, everyone can make their voice heard loudly and “hit yelling at TV”.

Websites like youtube and facebook succeeded by understanding and leveraging the above characteristics. Just like the “Bus Uncle’s Case”, only though emails forwarding but no marketing campaign, traffic can reach million overnight. In a recent TV series, there is a scene about the death of a police undercover “Laughing”. The feedback is so dramatic that the facebook application setup to commemorate the sacrificed police was joined by hundreds of thousands of supporters and was offered millions of items. The TV channel reacted instantly by trying to resurrect the character and giving more exposure to that artist. The channel seems to understand that Internet is becoming main stream. The choices are either adapting to it or defeated by it.

Internet represents “Revolution” in some senses. It transforms the real life behaviors of many people and threatens many traditionally-sound businesses. Take newspaper as an example, most publishers have to issue online versions and some in the US even ceased their paper distributions and turned themselves into purely online papers. For movie producers and music labels, their traditional revenue windows of theater, DVD/CD, paid TV and free TV are seriously eroded by piracy on the internet. If they continue to stay away from it instead of adapting to it, they would likely be eliminated.

Internet and cell phone are usually tagged as New Media. Operating in New Media requires a completely different set of thought, strategy and business model. It is always easier to say than to do. New business model means risks and uncertainties, but it also implies opportunities. Pioneers bear the risk and receive enormous rewards of their guts and visions if they succeed. On the other hand, followers can only make an average rate of return as they have lost the first mover advantage.

In all business arenas, the key to success are always the profound knowledge of the underlying business and the ability to reinvent itself, especially in the internet world. Without the courage to innovate, you could always only be a follower in the internet world.

2 Comments:

Blogger Eric Wong said...

Internet is now allowing communication among people through visual sense only , the impact would be enormous once people can sense odour and tastes via the Internet. I guess it will replace a large portion of normal human communication, and more people will indulge in the virtual world.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Savvy said...

Pardon me for wondering: In all business "arenas", the key to success are always ....
Do you mean areas?

8:40 AM  

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