The rise of social media on the web has been nothing short of meteoric. At the forefront of this movement are services like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr – to name only a few. While the medium and purpose for each of these may differ, they all enable the sharing of information about yourself with others. That so many people voluntarily do this is telling; clearly there is an urge in us to get the message out on who we are, what we are doing, and what we think and create. Coupled with this urge is a desire to keep the information we share current with the aim of remaining relevant to others. This act of sharing ongoing personal data via any online distributed medium I refer to as mecasting (think: “me-casting”).
Perhaps the most disruptive gifts technology brings are immediacy and the ability to democratize communication. We instinctively choose the real and live over the contrived and reproduced – that’s why Facebook is growing at the cost of broadcast TV. Indeed, TV networks themselves are increasingly turning to live reality shows to maintain audience. Jerry Springer has proved people would rather watch a real life soap opera than a Hollywood recreation. While broadcast will never die, it’s about to find itself in a popularity contest with its twin, mecast.
As online technologies merge, mecasting becomes more unified and immersive, allowing the creation of a personal brand. As networks improve, real-time video streams become more common. As hardware becomes wearware, the ability to share first person experiences becomes easier. Would you rather read a text status update on Facebook that says I am hang gliding or watch a live stream of it actually occurring? Ultimately, mecasting allows a person to share his or her life as it is being lived in real time with anyone they choose. After all, whose got time to edit video?
Make no mistake, mecasting is already here and growing rapidly. Teens will drive its growth and I predict we are in for a mind-bending change in culture that rivals that of the 1960’s. Individuals will effectively own their own TV stations and schedule programming at will, restricting content to a specified group of individual or making available for the whole world to see. Like broadcast TV, most mecasting will not be worth watching.
But the mecasting worth watching will change the world.