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Why Obama on Buzzfeed Gives a Glimp on the Future of Distributed Media

Over the last decade media has been on the disruptive frontier of digital innovation, music, video and text. In this time we all got the means in hardware and software to broadcast whatever we want when we want. Our reading behavior has shifted from publications to personalization. How does this influence the media landscape?

The White House and atomized media
In this article Steven Levy interviews Dan Pfeiffer about the White House media strategy. The article really emphazises what’s going on in the media industry and how it’s changing.

“The penetration of the traditional press was becoming significantly diminished. We were having trouble getting the message we wanted to get out, but at the same time, because of the power of social media, the messages that other people wanted to get out about us were breaking through to people.”

Dan refers to it as “the age of atomized media”. When attention is atomized. Traditional mass media is at risk of being reduced to special-interest media.

Buzzfeed
This week Buzzfeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti explained at SXSW how to operate as a mass medium in this atomized media landscape. It’s all about understanding and collecting data, learning from readers behavior and making money in the proces.

Is traditional media moving towards a tipping point? Something shifts slowly for a long time, and then it topples without realizing what just happended. Companies like Buzzfeed are operating on a completely different level.

Digital native media
Journalism isn’t less relevant. Traditionally centralized outlets that guarantee reach and thus impact are losing ground much more quickly to digital native companies like Snapchat, YouTube, Buzzfeed and Vice then we probably realize.

Design for Atomized media
Personally I love this transformation. We see companies that know how to use data, engage an audience and are working to sustainable digital business models.

Since I’m a designer, I’m also looking at this from a design perspective. Software driven companies like Buzzfeed are adding a layer of complexity and designers (if I speak for myself) love more complexity. The complexer the information, the more there is a need for great design and to gain from great design.

As a designer you will probably focus more on ‘tiny interactions’ that generate relevant user-data and dashboards that allow you to turn all this data into information. It’s a shift from editorial design to the design of tools and software.

Software is eating the world. Just like any other company, being a stellar media company today, is being a great software company.


Disclaimer: for those of you who don’t know, I used to work on digital & innovation at the Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant.