We all know that, in recent years, the boundaries between media and between media services have come crashing down, like the Berlin Wall in a new democracy. Consumers have ever-increasing choices about what they watch, listen to, read, communicate with, and how they do so.
I don’t think that most of us have yet fulfilled the predictions that consumers will be able to completely customize their media schedules and experiences, But for example, I can watch American Idol on TV; vote by voice, text, or online; record the show via my cable provider, or download the night’s performances via iTunes; and I can follow the contestants on twitter and facebook.
I can even write my own sci-fi TV episode, pick the music for it, help promote it, and watch it on computer or cable. Wait a minute! What? Well, at least with one show I can.
Bar Karma is a half-hour sci-fi series that airs, online and on cable, on Current TV. Current TV is a television network led by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt, among others, and it is part of Gore’s vision for increasingly interactive and community media. The Bar Karma website offers access to an online, interactive story-boarding program that allows viewers to contribute complete storyline ideas, or to contribute scenes and/or alternate directions to stories already in development. The site also has features that allow consumers to suggest music choices for the show and to learn about the production of episodes. And, the latest Bar Karma interactive feature asked viewers to submit ideas for how they, the consumer, could promote the show. Crowd sourcing from soup to nuts.
One has to love democracy. But, it can also be a little scary, like being chased by an octopus. The good news for those of us currently employed in media support services is that, ultimately, all of this viewer input is still being passed along to and through a staff of professional writers, producers, and, one assumes, a professional marketing team. But, who knows what the future will bring? [Hmmm. Think I should contribute a story idea for Bar Karma?]
I choose to believe that, as exhibited by the Open Source movement in computer programming, the input of tens of thousands of contributors may ultimately produce a better product than the input of a handful. However, one way or another, you’re still going to need trained and talented handlers to wrestle that octopus.