PREDICTION: The lines between publisher, platform, and device will blur. This will unlock custom, experiential media for communities.
For Marshall McLuhan, “media” and “technology” were more or less synonymous terms.
One way to summarize the last 50 years of media history is to analyze the changing power dynamics between between publications, platforms, and devices. The magazine era gave way to digital publications which gave way to social media. Television gave way to the internet, which enabled a slew of new devices for media consumption. Or better yet: consider vinyls to CDs to mp3s to streaming, and how each format led to changes in not only how we consume music, but where we consume it, what we use to consume it, and the type of music that gets created.
Regardless of the path you choose, a consistent trait of recent media history has been a marked distinction between publisher, platform, and device. Those distinctions are now rapidly deteriorating.
The parallel rise of indie hardware, crypto networks, and AI-generated content will lead to media that is not only unique to a particular publication, but unique to a particular community. We will see media formats that live on specific devices and are connected and monetized through onchain networks. We’ll also see see content that is trained on community interactions with AR/VR media to create live, custom experiences.
However these futures manifest, it’s clear that community is the new platform, and technologies will be shaped around unique, people-driven experiences.
Consider Campus Complex, a private, local educational network experiment that “turned a disconnected group of private offices and studios into a traversable network of learning environments for three builders, artists, and researchers.” This unique integration of geographic place, custom apps, and live programming created a unique, community-driven media experience.
Now imagine bringing custom hardware into the mix. Part of the team responsible for the experimental program is also building USB Club, a file-sharing network powered by physical USBs. The intersection of these ideas unlocks massive design space and offers a peak into what the future of media could look like.
The distinctions between publisher, platform, and device will make way to integrated, community-led, experiential media. Digital media evolved as software became easier to build. As AI makes software even easier to build and the barriers to hardware experimentation continue to fall, the “media businesses” of the future will look more like community worldbuilding projects.
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