The New Media’s coming of age | Dan Carlin | TEDxMtHood
Articles Blog

The New Media’s coming of age | Dan Carlin | TEDxMtHood

Translator: Thomas Prigent
Reviewer: Denise RQ I have a couple of children, and that’s where I want
to start this story. I have a newly-minted teenager,
and I have a preteen. And sometimes, I get into my head
to have a conversation with them about what life was like
before the Internet was invented. (Laughter) Sometimes, I’ll try to explain to them
how quickly everything’s changed, how much a part of our life it’s become,
and how quickly it’s been manifested. And they will give me this look
that I imagine must be a dead ringer for the look that I gave
my parents in the 1970s when they tried to explain to me about what life was like
before television was invented, and I remembered not really being able
to get my mind around that concept. I mean, to a kid growing up in the 1970s, television was a kind of media god,
I guess you could say. There really wasn’t that much competition. Nowadays – those of you
who have kids know this – nowadays, it’s like one deity
in a vast, diverse media pantheon, right? My ten-year-old daughter for example
watches YouTube, easily as much as she watches television. When she watches it, she often watches
things that would never be on television. I’ll give an example: one of the things
she really likes right now involves two girls
that are also about her age, I think their names are Kacy and Jacy, and I think they do something
called “The Tin Can Challenge,” but what it really is they get together
a bunch of strange food, they mix it together, then they eat it, and then you get to see
the reactions on camera. And my daughter think
this is hysterical by the way. Nothing that a network news program
whatever put on TV, but my daughter loves it. And you know, being 10 years old, I imagine that this Kacy and Jacy team
have a parent who films this for them and who puts it on YouTube for them. But within a month of doing that,
and this is where it gets crazy, they will get, generally,
over a million views. A million views,
and we are blasé about this. I’ll tell people this,
and they’ll think to themselves, “It’s not even that surprising. Great!
Good girls! Way to go! A million views!” When I was a kid,
when many of you were kids, there’s nothing we could’ve done
to get a million views anywhere. (Laughter) Right? I mean, there were these shows you could get your five minutes of fame
if you had some weird talent. You could go on “That’s Incredible,”
or “The Gong Show,” or “Real People,” or something like that. But basically, in the twentieth century, the media that was so dominating
in all of our lives was a really tightly-controlled thing. Very few people actually
had anything to do with it. It wasn’t a conspiracy or anything,
it just wasn’t easy to do media, right? I mean, try getting a radio signal, or a television broadcast
out to the public. You need things, don’t you? You need equipment, an infrastructure,
and you need money, don’t you? It’s something that by its very nature
only a few people can do. And I remember getting
this lesson myself in the 1970s when I was about 10, and I decided
I wanted to start my own newspaper. Sounded like a great idea, right? Very “Little Rascals/Our Gang”-style. I knew I was serious about it because I went
into my dad’s wardrobe closet, took out like his best shirt,
I’m sure he was thrilled, right? Got a tie, I have no idea
what I tied a tie like. I still can’t tie, when I was 10,
it must have been worse. Slicked my hair back, went down into the room in our house
we had designated as the media offices, with my whole neighborhood of kids
in there working on my little fantasy, and we were able to have
this little newspaper game until my dad decided a couple days later to break the ugly truth
to a kid in the 1970s that as a 10 year old,
you can’t have your own newspaper. You had to have a few things,
you had to have printing presses, you had to have a distribution network. All of this sounded
relatively logical, I guess, to a disheartened, heart-broken,
10-year-old media mogul, right? But you know, fast-forward 40 years, and the Kacy and Jacy Tin Can Challenge
that my daughter watches on YouTube looks like it could be on television
in terms of its quality level. And more than a million people
have seen it. And just so you know,
that’s more audience members than almost any newspaper in America has. Right? Think about that for a minute. The amount of change
that has happened in media, and the way it has been opened up
to the general public is unlike any thing that’s ever been seen. If you went and looked
at twentieth century media, It was, by its very nature,
hard for people to get into. There was a need to have a mass audience, there was no place for anything
that didn’t have a mass appeal. You go back, let’s say 1990, and you watch something
like the Golden Girls on television, which was a popular TV show,
but not a super popular TV show, but they had 20 to 30 million viewers
for every new broadcast. That, at the time, was about 10%
of the entire American population. They don’t get numbers like that
for sitcoms anymore, those are crazy numbers. Nowadays, you get 5 million people
watching a program, and you could live off of that. Back then, 5 million people
got your TV program canceled. You have opportunities
that didn’t exist back then. In the 21st century, you can go out
and reach billions of people. Once upon the time,
when I was in radio, you would go out, and you had a physical
transmitter distance that you could go and as soon as you drove out of it
you couldn’t hear me anymore. The Internet though is billions of people. It’s this enormous pie, and if you only can reach
a tiny little fraction of that pie, it’s still a ton of human beings. There are billions of people
in my potential audience, online, at podcasting. What is one percent of a billion? It’s 10 million. You could be an internet sensation by reaching a fraction of the audience
out there, the potential audience. So, you look at something
like broadcasting which means appealing
to a broad section of the population. There’s a reason in the 1970s
you had to do that, the programming was so expensive. You could never recoup
your money from the Golden Girls if you didn’t have
an entirely huge audience. But nowadays, the cost of doing media
has shrunk to such a degree that you can practically do it
at your home. I was joking earlier, if you take
a big star like an Eddy Murphy, somebody who required like they all did, somebody to discover them,
give you a chance, it doesn’t matter
how much talent you have, if one of these people
who are sort of media gatekeepers doesn’t allow you the opportunity. you upset somebody,
you step on someone’s toes, somebody doesn’t like the way you look,
you don’t have a career. A guy like Eddy Murphy,
where he’d be coming up today, if he had the technology
that we had in the 1970s, he could do a podcast,
just showing his stand-up comedy. And without ever having to be
on Saturday Night Live to become famous, he could, out of his house, at almost
no cost, and with nobody’s permission become a household name, go viral,
have millions of people following him. This is what the next Eddy Murphy
could do, this is what you could co. It’s a meritocracy now
when it comes to media. It wasn’t that way before,
media has always been controlled, there’s always been gatekeepers, because there’s a lot of power
in controlling the access to an audience. I always like to think
that even in Ancient Greek times, there was some guy
who owned the amphitheater, who went to
all those Ancient Greek playwrights that we still celebrate and learn about
in theater class today, and said, “Listen, take out line 4,
or you’re not getting on this stage.” Those people have always existed, and they’ve always controlled
what went on their stages. The theater people controlled
what went on their stages, the radio people controlled
what went over their airwaves, the editors controlled what went in the magazines
and the newspapers that they printed. I’ll give you an example: what if you could go and simply put a program online and have a ton of people watch it
and have it never go away? There’s a certain amount of immortality
to this new media; we call it new, but it’s possible
that this stuff is going to last forever. So, if you think
about immortality in a sense and the ability to go
and create something, and pour your soul into something,
in some of what makes you you, and then think about somebody
500 years from now listening to that,
or seeing that if it’s video, and getting this little piece of you. As a history guy, I always try to imagine if the kind of stuff we can do today
had existed centuries ago, how well we would know the past? What if Alexander the Great,
2,300 years ago, had a podcast? How well would we know this guy? And so, when you think
about doing a podcast today, or a blog, or a vlog,
or an indie music piece, or an indie video, or a zine
or even amateur news, or journalism, you think about the fact that your great-great-great-
great-great-grandchildren are going to get to know
who we are through all this. This is how they are going to understand
our times and our culture. I would love to have that
for an earlier time period. Let me ask you a question:
what’s going to happen, what’s going to happen,
ladies and gentlemen, when five years from now,
ten years form now, some individual
– or small group of individuals – gets more viewers
than a network nightly TV newscast? I know everybody’s thinking,
“That’ll never happen.” I’m here to tell you we’re not
that far away from that right now. And if you don’t think
that’s going to change everything, just imagine something called
Joe’s Nightly Newscast competing with
the NBC TV news for ratings. That’s going to be really different. And one of the reasons why is because the host
of Joe’s Nightly Newscast, unlike the NBC nightly news,
could be anybody. We’re living in an era
where media is transitioning from a sort of an aristocratic set-up
to a democratic one. What that means
is you’re living in the first era ever where you can decide
to be a part of media, whether or not anyone else says that’s OK. The real transformation here is
that media has been democratized. Access to an audience
has been democratized. And this is extremely unusual,
I mean, you go back into history. Have you ever tried to write a newspaper
article? Have you ever done that? Lot of people out there probably,
I’ve done that. What’s amazing when you write
a newspaper article is you really get to see what kind of power
these media gatekeepers have. First of all,
when you do an article like this, you usually have to write
a cover letter to the editor. And there’s a format for this,
there’s a protocol, “Dear Sir, please consider
my 750 words submission on this matter…” And if you screw that part of it up, they’ll say no to your article before
anybody gets a chance to look at it. If they don’t like your article
the way you wrote, they’ll reject it. If they don’t like your subject
you chose, they’ll reject it. If they don’t like your take
on the subject, they’ll reject it. Most of the time, whatever piece
you submit to the old media is going to be rejected before an audience
ever has a chance to way in on the matter. That’s what’s different now. Now you can’t be canceled. Now, you can’t have access
to an audience shutdown. The people who’ve controlled
this access forever, they still have great power,
you’d love to be discovered. You’d love to find out,
Comedy Scout found me, put me up on stage,
saved me a lot of time and trouble. But they haven’t shut you down,
if they don’t do that now, that’s what’s different than before. Once upon a time,
these people were so powerful that they could promote an artist,
or they could censor them. They could blackball them, or they could say something like,
“A little trip to the casting couch without your clothes on might increase
your publication opportunities.” If a segment of the audience
or a sponsor didn’t like what you do, or if not enough of them
liked what you do, they could restrict your access
to this audience, we used to call that getting canceled. They can’t cancel you anymore. This is where everything
has truly been transformed. You have, and everyone else around us has a chance to make their mark in media in a way that simply
has never before been possible. We are living through a time
that is a creativity revolution. There’s a line I love from Napoleon,
the French Emperor, who famously said that, “Quantity has a quality all its own.” I used to have discussions with all sorts of executives
in media in the 1990s. We would be talking about
what we called back then amateur content. We would talk about its future. They’d say to me, “Who’s going to want
to see any of this stuff? Who’s going to care? Anybody who could make anything of value
would be getting paid for it!” And what I would say to these people was that the sheer amount of content
that people would create some day would make up for the difference. Might not be as good as often,
as the professional stuff, but you’d be able to compensate for
the lack of professionalism with numbers. If only one percent of the amateur content
that is out there is great, that’s still a ton of stuff when there are millions
of content creators out there doing work. It’s the scale and the number of creators. It’s transformative. The scale in the audience
is transformative. I mentioned the Golden Girls a minute ago. You don’t need to get
20 or 30 million people anymore. Now if you’re a TV network station, and I say, “Why don’t you do a show on
science-fiction comic books of the 1950s?” they’re going to look at you
like you’re crazy, right? They’ll get a half million people watching
that show, and it’ll be a disaster. On the other hand, if you do a podcast on science-fiction comic books
from the 1950s, I bet you’d love to have
a half million people tuning into your podcast, wouldn’t you? And I bet those people
tuning into your podcast would love to have some production that is narrowly-targeted
towards their specific interest. I always tell people online, there are multiple Harry Potter
podcasts online right now. And if you are a devoted Harry Potter fan
looking for Harry Potter content, what sort of alternative
is the old media providing for you? There’s a whole new window
of opportunities here. This road that the media
used to keep closed, there was no access to this road,
it’s now opened up. And what we’re beginning to see is an explosion in the quantity
of human creativity. If you look at how many people
were producing entertainment and art 100 years ago, compared to the number of people
producing entertainment and art today. Think about how much extra stuff there’s going to have 100 years from now. So, the reason that this is
a road less traveled is because the media
has always been a private road, and we live in an era now where they have access
to the tools of creation, and the audience that’s the reason
you create something in the first place. And I’m pretty convinced
that 100 years from now, our descendants will look back
on this period, and they’ll label it for what it is: the era where media
was truly democratized. And because it was, this will be the era where human creativity,
in terms of his output, exploded. (Applause)

62 thoughts on “The New Media’s coming of age | Dan Carlin | TEDxMtHood

  1. I've literally spent over 50 hours of my life listening to hardcore history, it's so weird to put a face to the voice. Such a great guy.

  2. Congrats to dan for making it on ted! I've listened to almost every hardcore history he's made. I'm actually wondering if there is anybody else who I'll be able to listen to after him. Nobody in podcasting is more down to earth

  3. Dan said he completely forgot what he had planned to say about halfway through this, then just winged it for the rest of the way. I think I like the second half better.

  4. Dan Carlin is fantastic…Hardcore History leaves me occasionally searching for reasons to go on long drives just so I can finish an episode!

  5. TPP just passed, media going to go undemocratic again here soon.
    TiSA and TTIP won't help either.

  6. As someone who put up about 20 podcasts about a mom who sews for her family, it's nice to know its out there somewhere. I started when Dan did but my kids got older and I got too busy. I always feel pride that he's continued on and been so successful!

  7. Mr. Dan… knowing history you did not mention the threat this new media is to the existing empire and that they will do anything and everything to reign it in. Governments , if they are unable to control by power, control by means of bread and circuses. As much as weird-food-mixing is entertaining to watch for a child, this quickly leads to ever increasing boredom, which in turn leads to an appetite for more extreme gratification. Today's insatiability for reality TV, cage fighting and 'live war footage' are, as I once predicted, a gradual and determined return to the full barbarity of Roman circuses. I was in a public library recently and children as young as nine were watching on internet pictures of dismembered bodies from a bombing and giggling because the librarian had failed to notice. 30 years ago (a period you spoke much of) this oversight would have provoked an international outcry. 
    I was an art student and observed that modern liberalism in art overtly and predominantly produces degeneracy rather than anything of engaging, intellectual substance and moral responsibility. Dear Sir, ive listened to many of your Hard core history series but you take no account for the condition of the human heart and what really drives it. This is why those who are aware of this, seek a redeemer outside of themselves. Yours sincerely.

  8. The only thing Dan is off about is that YouTube isn't democratic. It often bans videos it doesn't agree with the content so there is a gatekeeper.

  9. It will be interesting to see what changes. Control or censorship of the internet? At the increasing rate that people are creating data, when will the rate that less and less people are contributing to the physical necessities of life be noticed. Food, clothing shelter and such cannot be created on the matrix, and as more and more people create digital creations, where will we find the labor force to sustain us with physical things with a true value to them?

  10. "And now without further preamble I'd like to introduce to you all Dan Carlin's Nightly News, to be broadcast nightly, by me. Suck it NBC news!"

  11. Nearly 60 years old. Dropped the cable service 1 year ago. I only use Internet now. Dan Carlin is the single biggest reason why. I will no longer dumb down my listening experience to satisfy idiotic programming executives in L.A. or New York. The future is now. Kick some butts, Dan!!

  12. I love this guy and being a History nut myself I can't believe I only very recently discovered him but I am going to be playing catchup for a while on his podcast.

  13. this man reminds me of some teachers I had and some that I wish my kids have. They would love history as much as I do!

  14. "It's a free, meritocracy. If you can keep it"

    Seriously, the internet is the modern age's wild wild west. It will only remain wild and free if you can keep it that way. So far we're doing a not so good job. Just barely holding off the inevitable which is actually not. That depends solely on us. The millions and billions.

  15. I believe that the" new media " or narrow casting , will simply increase the isolation of individuals in a society. Shared interests begin to disappear , cultural commonalities evaporate, and yet I rush home to be alone in my office apart from my family to get my watch on! Shit I love YouTube!

  16. This talk has given me even more motivation to create and publish content online. The benefits of democratization/meritocracy and distribution – I'd already considered those. But the fact that 500 years from now, my lineage will still be able to easily lookup at any content I create today, is another fantastic reason. If for no other reason, I should create content for them – so they can get a slice of history from within their own lineage. How wonderful that would be for them.

  17. I love his voice. I love his Hardcore History podcast. I love the points he brings up here. It's an odd thing to think about but in a way he fulfilled a part of that childhood dream of his because of the accessibility he spoke of. Well done

  18. The platforms explode, as did the old networks, the actors and content creators keep being expendable as they've always been. YT detonates popular channels all the time, blocking their adds and blacklisting them from the recommend/hot algorithms, yet the platform and content keeps growing day by day. The machine has grown, not the people's part in it. Same game as usual, just in a different scale and format.

    People don't consume media, media consumes people. If a product is free for you, then you are the product.

  19. Great talk, but the democritization of media is also a double-edged sword. Now you can find a content creator and an audience for just about anything–including completely false information and batshit-crazy ideologies. I'm not saying this down-side outweighs the good, but we need cultural changes to make us better at critical thinking or we might end up in sea of delusion bubbles that blind us to the larger picture.

  20. I wonder what Dan would thing of this topic/his talk looking back on it in 2019. The biggest issue that's arisen lately is that there is SO MUCH of this content and its being created so fast that there's no way to drink from the firehose without tech companies filtering it down into your recommendations with their algorithms….which means they have all the power of the old media with none of the accountability.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top