By Ericha Hager; Internews Center for Innovation and Learning Intern
The second annual Mashable Media Summit was the place to be for media enthusiasts and technology junkies. This gathering, which took place last weekend at The Times Center in New York City, brought together over 300 professionals from a wide swath of the media landscape to learn how new technologies are shaping the future of journalism, redefining the boundaries of consumers/producers, and encouraging the design of new business models and revenue streams. Founders, presidents, CEOs, COOs, CCOs, SVPs and all other powerful acronyms were sharing media secrets of the leading lifestyle publications, television networks, and social media outlets.
Coming from the non-profit media development sector, I felt a little out of my game. Most of the time when I engage in conversations about innovative trends in media, SMS text messaging, interactive voice response, or data visualization platforms are the topics of choice. This conference focused on the exact opposite user demographic than the one typically found in the regions where Internews works. I was a little dubious after the opening plenary listed touch screens as one of the top five trends of 2012 to look out for. I mean, it shouldn’t matter to a media development organization that that 70% of viewers are using “second screens” (smartphone, computer, or tablet) to multitask while watching television or that brands are now starting to become media companies instead of the media being used to advertise for brands, right?
Not necessarily. While not all of the topics discussed at the Summit are applicable in this field of work, it is still important to be aware of where the future of media is headed. The new platforms and slick technologies discussed at the event are just now hitting the market, but they will be considered old in no time. The rate at which technology is developed and disseminated is astonishing. As one speaker pointed out, many digital electronic devices are subject to one of the many variations of Moore’s Law which states that technological advances occur at an exponential rate in such that every 18 months devices are twice as advanced as their predecessor and cost half as much as they did originally.
As these advances occur, technology is becoming more widespread and affordable than ever before. At this point, more people have access to cell phones than clean drinking water in much of Africa. We can only assume that the number of smartphones being used will overtake simple phones in this region sooner than later. Tablets will be next on the horizon with their light weight and ease of transport. Being aware of what is coming down the digital technology pipe and anticipating ways to integrate it into existing forms of traditional media will increase the effectiveness and timeliness of projects. If the media development sector is able to stay ahead of the curve and have projects hit the ground running, the better it will be able to improve the flow of information and open up new channels of communication in areas that need it most.