In a world full of answers you start your journey by asking the right questions
You may have already heard that Tomi Ahonen has published a free edition of his Insider’s Guide to Mobile through the eBook publisher Lulu. It could be best described as a reader’s digest of extracts from his collection of books on the emergence of the mobile phone as the dominant media communications platform of the future.
One of Tomi’s core concepts reposition the mobile phone as the 7th mass media. The other six being Print, Recorded media (e.g. Records and tapes), Cinema, Radio, TV and the internet.
The list is of course somewhat arbitrary. For example where do you put the Camera and the Photograph? The Cathedral and Stained Glass Window? The Jungle Drums and the Smoke Signal? The Billboard and the Poster? The Stadium and the Carnival? The Museum and the Art work? Media is as much about architecture and artifact as it is about messages and technology.
Historically if you wanted to consume media you either purchased the artifact (Think: Artwork, Posters, Billboards, Fashion, Books, Newspapers, Magazines, Records, Photographs, DVD, Video Games and CD) or gathered in a public space to witness the media event (Think: Architecture (Temples, Museums, Theatres and Stadia). Either way the method of consumption is essentially passive.
The emergence of broadcast media in the 20th century didn’t really change that model. The audience still continues to spend large sums of money on the artifact (Think TV, Radio, Computer, Laptop, Mobile Phone) but they do so with the expectation that the content (Think Media and Apps) should be made freely available simply because it is being “pulled out of the air” (i.e. Broadcasted).
In many ways this at the heart of the disconnect between the content creator and the consumer. The consumer believes they have already purchased the rights to the content when they purchase the artifact.
Over the past decade mobile phones have evolved rapidly beyond their primary function of voice calls to become handheld devices that allow for both the consumption and creation of multi media. However the mobile phone has the potential to be much, much more than just a multi media device and it would be unfortunate if we limited our imaginations and expectations of the technology to just being the 7th mass media.
It is much more productive to trace the lineage of the mobile phone back through the history of the tools of creative expression (Think Pencil, Brush, Typewriter and Mouse) than the history of media artifacts (Think: Books, Films, Recording and Screens).
If we make this mistake of limiting our mobile media concepts to the consumption of media then we will inevitably fall into the trap of seeking to monetize the content by putting ads on the menu. But, if we expand our expectations for mobile beyond just media consumption, we will discover a mobile communications platform that will fundamentally reshape the future of commerce.
The challenge ahead is to redefine the mobile media experience and move it away from the passive consumption of media towards the active consumption, capture and creation of media. This suggests that in the future the mobile media experience will be as much about the world in which the device is being used as it is about the functionality and features of the device. More a tool for navigating the real world than just another disruptive advertising platform.