What do you do with a medium that’s fragmentized and atomized, whose antique analog economics have been flung out the window into a digital hurricane, and is rapidly becoming a great big mess?
If you ask Shelly Palmer, the answer is to stop fighting fragmentation and start harnessing it.
I love this idea. How much more fun would TV be — even old shows we’ve seen a million times — if all the production elements were given to the world to mashup in real time?
Radical Common Sense
This might sound insane at first. But the more you think about it, the more it sounds like radical common sense. Pay close attention to what Shelly Palmer is saying:
“We have entered the super-digital age and now all television is digital. So why are we still broadcasting combined, fully finished, masters in real time? We don’t have to. It would be much, much better to (…) break the data down to its component parts and broadcast them separately. So, text, graphics, music, script, metadata, voice-over, picture elements would all be packaged as individual data streams and made available in real time.”
As a creative person, I’m excited by Shelly’s idea because it opens possibilities. I believe all creative thinking is basically mashing up existing ideas in a way that reveals something previously unseen. To borrow a line from U2’s song “The Fly”, “Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief.” Mashups just make that process explicit, and part of the fun is spotting the purloined bits. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go download the Kleptones “Night At The Hip-Hopera”. It explains everything.)
As a businessman, I’m intrigued because it means you can do insane experiments with re-thinking TV without having to kill it in the process. Old and new can co-exist, until new finds the place where it stops seeming crazy and starts making money.
Is It Time To Stop Fighting The Future?
Digital makes mashing things up easy — in fact everything in this blog post is mashed up from somewhere else, from the Honeymooners pictures and script, to the quote from Shelly Palmer.
What great things can happen if we stop trying to fight the future and just let digital do what digital wants to do? Who knows where it can lead us?