Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Mission

I am interested in the world as it is and people as they are. The US is my context. We are all in our world and beyond the light-within-the-light that is the bare fact of our existence, we are defined by our consumer choices. In the post World War II world as it is, our identities as consumers are essentially inseparable from our identities as people. None of this is news, but it’s the framework I’m working with.

I love innovation, design, art, and technology, but change comes more slowly than the vanguard expects. In the meantime, people have to make their lives out of the sticks and mud available. One group breaks that rule, the early adopters, but they just have a deeper rule of consumption: consume all that is new. And many early adopters stop consuming all that is new, it usually just takes them a while.

Most blogs seem to focus on these consumers. It makes sense. They have lots of money sitting around and they will buy every new thing. But from the perspective of impact in the world, they are the least interesting cohort. What 1 million people do in New York and SF has very little bearing on the lives of most Americans. The trick is to spot the trends that will appeal to many niches, the aggregation of which is what we call the mass market.

There are certain niches, most of which are adoption laggards, that are interesting because the people within them are consuming within restrictions. Children, working mothers, people with dial-up, senior citizens, non-English speakers, the poor. If consuming can be art, these are our poets. Their decisions have real consequences, which seems to lead people to believe that their choices are less artful. But that ignores the reality that everyone wants to maximize many different areas of their lives with each purchase. Just because you’re shopping at Walmart doesn’t mean you don’t want to look sexy, professional, or cool. Getting what you want with what you got is made a lot more interesting when you don’t have everything. So this blog will focus on these types of consumers. They need more attention.

The other focus will be on the revolution of social and interactive media. I’m scanning the globe for ideas and innovations that might have an impact on mainstream America. By this I mean the Nintendo Wii, MySpace, Facebook, Club Penguin, open source, blogs, Barbie Girls, YouTube, Miniclip, Yelp, OhMyNews, Club Pogo, Habbo Hotel, Second Life, Current TV, etc. As their Internet cultures are both strong and outside the Anglophone world, we’ll be looking often at Korea and China, nations receiving broadband before cable TV.

The intersection of non-early adopter cohorts and these new technologies/ideas is the crucible in which the future of our media landscape will be formed. After years of telling the sub/ex-urbs what their lives look like, these areas are producing artifacts that attest to lives lived much more interestingly and meaningfully then expected. This is going on out in the suburbs of St. Paul and the exurbs around Albany, in the rural hinterlands that stretch from Seattle to Portland, and in the farming towns outside Atlanta. These are the people who have formed TV’s big audience. Sadly, many people in the culture centers assumed that was all these people did. Now, greater access into our lives via our blogs and videos is allowing this huge nation to see itself, if we want to look.

Of course, our world is not just individual corporeal people. It’s also corporate persons who, evil or not, have a huge amount of influence over our lives. For our purposes, the CEOs of these companies are quite useful. Luckily, they (sort of have to) tell their investors what the market conditions are. In so doing, they provide a fact check in aggregate for our ideas about American consumers.

I hope to provide context for the issues described here. Ideas and opinions are out there and easy to have. I hope to provide information that will help us all evaluate those ideas.

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At August 16, 2007 at 9:02 PM , Blogger Joe said...

Very cool. Looking forward to your thoughts!

At August 20, 2007 at 2:58 PM , Blogger Alexis Madrigal said...

Thanks Joe. I hope I haven't disappointed yet. Let me know if there are certain content areas that you're particularly interested in.


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