Media institutions and governments no longer have a monopoly on information flow. Social media and alternative digital communication channels have given rise to a reputation based media system.
As we move towards the future, expect new and alternative sources of information to become actionable intelligence. Truth doesn’t just come from the government or your local newspaper but now can come from “in the field” play by play communications.
Traditional sources of information flow include:
- Mainstream Media – Newspapers, Cable News, the big three television network news and their affiliates
After the creation of the internet, and the proliferation of mobile communications networks other forms of media began to emerge.
- Digital Periodicals
The rise of the internet created new business models that fundamentally altered the media landscape. Prior to the internet, media made money when advertisers purchased ad space and gained an ability to get their content in front of a massive audience.
The internet, and its subsequent fracture of audience attention across multiple mediums forced a fundamental change to how money could be made in the information business. The democratization of access and tools for creating on the internet allowed anyone to become a reporter on topics of interest.
Google’s ad based revenue structure changed the nature of content production. Pay per click and pay per impression models shifted the types of content produced, incentivizing sensationalized media over frequently bland fact based information.
This built a gold rush scenario with many people and organizations becoming filters for information flow, capturing significant market share from traditional mainstream media companies. To stay relevant, they incorporated many of the sensationalized business tactics.
As a direct result of these tactics, fake and misleading news, stories and information has been on the rise.
Now there is a new form of information sharing which is authenticated by social proof of work, ie: when the person sharing information stakes their reputation and credibility on the information being true. In the event that they make false statements, reputation and influence are lost.
Influence is therefore, a new form of capital in the digital age. An individual or institution’s reputation is a form of digital currency. It’s value that can be monetized in different ways.
It is no longer correct to think of the digital economy as an attention based system. The value is generated from an ability to capture an audiences attention and influence that audience. If an audience sees what you post does not take any action based on the information provided, it has no value.
As an example, Ben Hunt is a writer covering financial sector topics at his website Epsilon Theory. Hunt staked his reputation on the inevitability of a coronavirus pandemic by gathering and sharing information with his followers on the Covid-19 outbreak.
Acting as an early source of information flow, Hunt acted as a filter providing legitimate news and analysis of the growing crisis. Hunt’s information frequently ran contrary to the government and mass media publication narratives until the pandemic was well underway.Hunt curating in-the-field perspectives for his audience
Hunt became the filter distributing truth on the coronavirus along the long tail of information that is the internet. Key to his success, he provided facts, captured attention, and the information he provided was actionable.
In sharing consistent and factual information he became a go-to source of news and growing his reputation. In times past, that would have been the mainstream media or the government’s role. Because his information was actionable, anyone that was looking to stay ahead of the pandemic would regularly check in with Hunt’s Twitter feed to get the best information. Frequently following his advice and sharing it with their own networks.
Now and moving forward the information flow dynamic that was traditionally monopolized by the media and government has shifted towards the influencer model. As we move our lives further into the digital space, we will see the media landscape continue to evolve towards an influencer model.