Is the audience becoming the media?

Point: The most important content in your life is what you create -- or receive from those closest to you.

Here are the simple but hard questions I've asked over a couple of decades of creating emerging media products: Will new and unfamiliar forms of media find a mass audience, and will a sizeable subset spend enough time consuming enough content for advertisers to see a measureable ROI? The spectacular failures are many, starting with the dreadful ad-supported CD-ROM efforts of the 80's, through the dotbombing of the industry in the 90's.

Today, emerging trends such as "Social Networking" put media storytelling in the hands of the audience. Topics considered also rise from within these continuously-connected network of friends, families and colleagues. Often, at best, content from media companies gets clipped into tiny pieces of microcontent, or memes, and shared within a personal network. And the media and its advertisers never see this audience.

So, can the media industry continue its role as the primary storyteller and influencer of topics considered by an audience? Or, will audiences abandon media properties as we know them today in the future?

Is this just another trend that will fizzle too? Call me crazy, but I think not. Why? The brilliant Dan Gillmor's book We The Media should convince you.

J-School students and faculty, and others: Please contact me with questions or any interest you have in our experiments.

Email Kim Garretson.