Global discussion on the future of media


The Future of Media Report 2006 has certainly achieved its intention of generating discussion with dozens of posts and also good media coverage. So far there has been discussion in five languages from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Peru, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, and the US (these are representative links only – in most of these countries there have been many references to the report).

Here is the full list of links to the report and Summit website (Technorati).

[UPDATE: Over 7,000 copies of the report have been downloaded.]

There were two particularly thorough and thoughtful analyses of the report, the first of the reviews from Robin Good at Master New Media, and another one from Sanjana Hattotuwa – these are both very much worth reading. I’d like to pick up on and respond to just a few of their comments.

Robin says:

The report is way too US-centric. The revolution in the making is a global one, not an American one. Do you think that if by accident the US had a sustained black out this would somehow stop? Many other local and regional realities are at work, and often with a much greater impact on society and with a faster evolutionary speed than what the US content and advertising marketplaces have done.

Given the highlights and the relative majority of research data focusing on the US-UK-Australia triangle only, ironically the report could have been better titled something as The Future of American and Anglo-Saxon Media.

Absolutely a fair comment Robin. The reason we limited the research focus of the report to US, UK, and Australia was primarily one of resources. While Future Exploration Network is a global organization, these are our “home” countries. In creating the report we considered whether to include other interesting media markets, which could have included China, Brazil, Scandinavia, or many others. However the report was pulled together very quickly, and we simply didn’t have the time and resources to extend beyond these three markets for the research portion of the report. The other themes and issues, such as the strategic framework, absolutely apply in all media markets, and it’s certainly been encouraging how global the response to the report has been. We would love to do a report either truly more global in scope, or addressing specific markets such as East Asia, continental Europe, or Latin America, however this would require some resources. So if any organizations are interested in sponsoring or getting involved in a report that would go further than the original one, definitely get in touch with us.

Robin says:

Global media market highlights.

32 years [for the media and entertainment industry to double its share of the global economy]? I think it will take much less time than that, and looking at the report I get no reference or URL to verify and deepen my understanding. The data reported to support this point say only: “based on 1999-2004 trends” (page 3 of the report).

Sorry, yes this is worth elaborating. In 1999-2004 the global media and entertainment industries grew by 28.5%, while global GDP increased by 18.7%. If these growth rates continue, the share of media and entertainment of the global economy will double in 32 years. Since these years include both the dot-com boom and subsequent bust, they may not be representative. I too believe that it will take less than 32 years, but it’s an interesting extrapolation. While the global economy is likely to grow at a strong pace (barring disasters), the shift to intangible value will definitely accelerate.

Robin says:

The Future of Media Strategic Framework.

This is a good reference framework though consideration for a few additional components and factors may help better see further opportunities and a broader view of what’s to come. By that I refer to the new emerging role of filterers, aggregators and newsmasters and what this implies, the intersection of radio, tv, video and film with traditional written media, the internationalization / localization / translation challenges, the emergence of personal media tools and of the fusion between physical and online events into a new form of extended interaction.

Great points. As noted in the report, the framework’s Creative Commons license allows people to build on it. We may incorporate some of these ideas into the framework, or others may choose to do so.

Lots more great analysis on the original post.

Sanjana Hottotuwa, who among other activities writes the ICT for Peacebuilding blog, has a great review and analysis of the report, building on Robin’s. A few excerpts:

Sanjana says:

The premature announcement of the death of print media

Driving the revolution of social media / new media / community media in the West is often attributed to the ubiquity of internet access, usually broadband, an enlightening telecommunications regulatory framework, the high quality of network infrastructure and the extremely low cost of internet / web access.

These are all important points to consider, since the lack of one or all of these factors results in countries such as Sri Lanka being left out from active participation in the new media revolution. There is however another factor that is not often pointed to as instrumental in the new media revolution, simply because, like air, it is taken for granted in more developed societies.


As I type this blog post, I’ve switched to battery power because the lights in my home are fluctuating rapidly, signs of an inevitable breakdown in the supply and also indications of spikes and surges that if plugged in, could possibly ruin my computer.

The problems associated with the generation of electricity in many countries in the world severely mitigate the potential of new media to engender a root and branch transformation of the print media that dominates the media landscape today.

These issues are very easy to forget when you’re sitting in developed country (though the US doesn’t seem to far ahead of many developing countries in having reliable electricity supplies….)

Sanjana says:

The Metaverse Messenger

I wonder if any of the authors of The Future of Media report had even heard of the Metaverse Messenger, or for that matter many of today’s media pundits.

Before The Metaverse Messenger, we need to explore the ways through which MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing games) such as Second Life, and World of Warcraft can change the media industry. Players of these online games number in the millions – the World of Warcraft for instance has over 4 million inhabitants / players.

A parallel online life is essentially the premise of Second Life by Linden Labs, a MMORPG that for a number of reasons, most notably for a vibrant and sophisticated in-game commerce and industry model that is pegged to the US dollar, has resulting in the increasing attention of researchers, business, professional gamers and interested individuals alike. I’m a frequent observer of events in Second Life – as Sanjana Hutton, my online avatar roams different worlds in search of online behaviours that help me better understand how MMORPG’s can contribute to conflict transformation initiatives in the real world.

No I was not familiar with the Metaverse Messenger – thanks for the pointer Sanjana. However we absolutely do spend a lot of time looking at the alternate worlds such as Second Life, and their longer-term implications. Few people today comprehend quite how pervasive these alternative interaction spaces will become over the next decade or two. However there is only so much you can include in a brief report. We definitely hope to do some studies and potentially a report on these phenomena before too long.

Sanjana says:

As The Future of the Media report states “most innovation will… come from the outside, either from young people, or from companies outside the existing media establishment”.

Frankly, I think that this is one of the most prescient comments in the report. The pioneers of new frameworks of peacebuilding are, in most cases, the same wellsprings of innovation and creativity that are shaping the new media revolution.

They need our support.

There is vast promise in the new communications technologies. It is up to us all to grasp that promise and opportunity.

Again, far more insightful comment’s from Sanjana’s original post.

I look forward to the discussion continuing! The report was intended as a conversation starter, and it appears to have provided good fodder. I’ll occasionally summarize the continuing commentary as further interesting points emerge.