Last week, I got into a bit of a lively debate with some techie friends of mine. The “hot topic” of discussion was NewsCorp’s new iPad-only newspaper called The Daily, which was just launched.
It’s an interesting thing given that NewsCorp’s owner Rupert Murdoch has got a bit of a reputation as a traditionalist when it comes to things like newspapers.
Prior to the launch, there was much speculation on what it would look like.
Well, the dust is settled now that The Daily is out, and Murdoch’s vision is clear. The future of the newspaper looks like a, well, newspaper. The irony is that The Daily reflects Murdoch’s belief in long-form journalism and feature-length stories, but by golly, there’s a tonne of it, isn’t there?
A look through the page got me counting: 37 meaty articles or opinion pieces, along with some 30 minutes worth of video footage in just one issue of The Daily. Now, multiply this by five issues a week, and my casual estimate tells me that anyone who subscribes to The Daily is going to have a pretty hard time reading everything he’s paid for.
Isn’t this the case today? We’re creating more content than we could consume. This is amazing, considering how just a couple of centuries ago, a good book was few and far between.
To put things into perspective, in 2010 alone, over 280,000 books were published in the United States – that’s not including magazines, journals and the like. Online, millions of blogposts were published and a video is uploaded every minute onto YouTube.
Meanwhile, Hollywood released more than 600 movies last year. And let’s not forget the games and music industries.
The bottomline is that content is being produced at blinding speed today, and I’m quite sure even if you weed out all the junk and only consume stuff that interests you, there would still be too much to take in.
My iPad now has 35 games, four digital magazine subscriptions, three RSS readers, and too-many-comics-to-count. I’ve barely passed the first level on 31 of those games, have not read more than one issue of those four subscriptions, and rarely touch the RSS readers or comics. But still I hoarde.
If you checked my PC and my Steam account, you’ll find games that have been bought and left untouched. In the real world, I have dead tree magazine editions left untouched, and books still in their shrink-wraps.
But we’re voracious creatures, aren’t we? Always wanting more new stuff. And in the words of wise Master Yoda, “wanting leads to buying, buying leads to hoarding, and hoarding leads to … suffering.”
Yes, suffering, particularly the kind that comes from spending too much time figuring out what you want to consume, or having tons of stuff cluttering up your life. And yet, because you paid for it, you feel as if you’ve just got to make use of it.
So now that the conundrum is out, I don’t think the pace of content creation will ever slow. But I do think that’s why the opportunity over the next decade or so will be to create systems that very quickly tell us what is most relevant to our interests, and point us to the right place to consume. After all, we’re big consumers, right?
q David Lian can consume on average 12 books, 25 magazines, five video games and 300 podcasts a year. Everything else gets hoarded. Tweet him at http://twitter.com/davidlian.