Innovation & Design

Where Old and New Media Collide


Grant McCracken, the cultural anthropologist and industry consultant, suggests that in the future, media producers must accommodate consumer demands to participate or they will run the risk of losing the most active and passionate consumers to some other media interest which is more tolerant: "Corporations must decide whether they are, literally, in or out. Will they make themselves an island or will they enter the mix? Making themselves an island may have certain short-term financial benefits, but the long-term costs can be substantial."

The media industry is increasingly dependent on active and committed consumers to spread the word about valued properties in an overcrowded media marketplace and in some cases, they are seeking ways to channel the creative output of media fans to lower their production costs. At the same time, they are terrified of what happens if this consumer power gets out of control, as they claim occurred following the introduction of Napster and other file-sharing services….

One can trace two characteristic responses of media industries to this grassroots expression: Starting with the legal battles over Napster, the media industries have increasingly adopted a scorched earth policy towards their consumers, seeking to regulate and criminalize many forms of fan participation which once fell below their radar. Let’s call them the prohibitionists.


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