Following the breakdown of social, religious and family structures over the course of the twentieth century, individualisation is speeding up. The logical consequence for the media, the communitisation of information consumption, is becoming commonplace today with the digitization of data flows.
In 1980, newsagents sold 70% general content newspapers, with the other 30% being special interest publications around broad themes. Today, that proportion has evolved into 10% general interest publications and 90% specialist publications, dedicated to very specific topics and aimed at smaller but dedicated audiences.
This individualisation of information consumption can also be observed in the field of traditional media through television placement in homes. While in the 1980s most households had one shared television in the living room, regardless of their income level, most families today, even those on a modest income, have a television in every room.
Unsurprisingly, this trend has exploded since the beginning of the new century with the digitization of data flows and digital publishing tools that have drastically reduced the cost of creating and distributing specialised media. With a supply of digital content indexed and available on demand, everyone can put together their own digitized media content according to their desires, time available and personal interests. With passion at the heart of identity-building, the main factor in establishing common ground is and will remain the community to which users belong, which brings consequences both for communication and information.
Belonging to one or several specific communities means that audiences know their subject well and perceive added value only in information that is in-depth and original. Those communicating thus need to find the right mix of mass-market and specialist, between community language and universal vocabulary.
On the other hand, each community should be seen as a fluctuating group, with its own expectations, vocabulary, practices and codes. The individuals who make up these groups identify with a series of communities, interconnected ‘tribes’, representing the various facets of their personalities and their interests at any given moment.
Web 2.0 applications (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter), RSS feeds and Video On Demand are the main tools in the popularisation of this trend. A fundamental, inevitable trend from common ground towards the private sphere; a trend which is moving in the direction of history and steering us into the future.
Thanks for reading. Written in May 2009. First published in July 2009 in CominMag: http://www.cominmag.ch/comnew-communaute/ Republished in Sept 2014 on personal and corporate blogs.
Happy to discuss this and any other topic with you ; )