Here’s another installment in my thoughts on digital convergence, cross-posted with permission from the CI KTN website.
I said I’d get round to demographics, and I specifically want to talk about age. Now, I write this as a 45-year old, not an angry young man, but let me start with a double anecdote. As readers of many of my posts about metadata will know, I am an avid fan of contemporary heavy metal. There, I said it. I go to a lot of gigs and try to write them up on my blog. A day or two after a show, I can generally find half a dozen bits of mobile-shot “fan footage” from the gig to illustrate my post; remember – I’m talking about a kind of metal whose audience has an average age of, say, 23.
But I like other music, too, and recently I attended what turned out to be a rather storming PiL gig in Brighton, whose audience was, well, let’s just say I was one of its youngest members. So, come the following day, I get round to writing about the gig and can find precisely no fan footage of the show, and, casting my mind back, I realise that the usual forest of held-aloft mobiles which characterises the pit at a metal gig was entirely absent.
Here’s the thing: most execs in the media – publishers, broadcasters, programme makers and so on – are vastly more likely to correspond demographically to a PiL audience than that of, let’s say, Cult of Luna. That’s to be expected: it takes a lot of experience to get to a senior position in most fields, so people tend not to be in a strategically important position until their late thirties at the earliest. And to most people in that age group all this talk of transmedia remains fanciful at best, and possibly even annoying.
Moreover, while there’s a huge pressure on execs to “get this”, the pressures of the job (which from experience is often 24/7) simply don’t allow for experimentation with technology. Write up appraisals or play with a new iPad app? Sit down with an external supplier to negotiate terms or sit down with TweetDeck for an hour? I think you know which options will win out… And don’t forget that people around the age of 40 very often have other little pressures in their life.
The truth is, in my “other life” as a digital media strategist, I spend a lot of time with senior people in arts and media organisations who absolutely understand how important all “this stuff” is, but have precious little time, energy or frankly inclination engage with it at anything other than a surface level – at best. Yet this is the generation that is making the decisions about the deployment of digital strategies within the media – and I can’t help but think that they (that is, we) are in the right place in their lives to do so with the best results.