Corollaries of Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ Laws Interactions

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Here are some corollary effects resulting from observable dynamics of Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ laws. These go beyond the computer and telecommunications industries from which those dynamics directly stem and beyond the media industries which are the subject of this particularly work you’re reading, and pertain to virtually all industries now and in the future, as well as to societies, culture, and civilization. The ramifications of these corollary effects demonstrate the sheer scale of changes that the dynamics of Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ laws have engendered:

Mind-boggling increases in the pace of change. The single most remarkable effect of the interactions of Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ laws is an ever-increasing pace of technological acceleration. Humanity never before has had to deal with such a meteoric pace of change. To put this in perspective, compare the current pace of technological change with that of previous revolutionary technologies. If the capabilities of the powered-flight aviation technologies invented by the Wright Brothers in 1903 had accelerated at even the slowest pace of the three laws I’ve mentioned (i.e., Cooper’s Law), then by 1978 the average airliner would have been capable of conveying a quarter billion people at the Speed of Light (a flight which, of course, would probably be impossible due to the size of the craft but certainly due to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity!) Likewise, if the capabilities of the automotive technology invented by Karl Benz in 1885 had accelerated at that pace, then by 1982 any auto would have been capable of carrying everyone in the world at the Speed of Light. If the printing technology invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450 had advanced at that pace, the capabilities of the average printing press today would denude the Earth of trees for paper in less than a second. Mind-boggling! Clearly, no previous technology, no matter how revolutionary that people considered it, has ever progressed at the paces of Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ laws. When I tell my university students, “You’re a unique generation,” some at first think that I am patronizing them; but I justify my statement by explaining to them that, “You’re a generation who will have to adapt to more changes than any previous generation of humans who’s ever lived, changes no previous generation imagined. If you think that you’ve seen changes during the past ten or 20 years, you haven’t seen anything yet.”

Ever shorter ‘mature’ phases for products and ideas. On a more practical level, one aspect of the accelerating pace of change will be increasingly short ‘mature’ phases for many, if not most, technologies and products. Traditionally, industries and businesses have enjoyed long commercial lifespans for products, amortizing the products’ developmental costs over their ‘mature’ period. However, the accelerating pace of change almost guarantees quicker product obsolescence and thus shorter ‘mature’ product lifespans. It will become increasingly likely that many, if not most, new products’ commercial lifespans will be ever shorter as the pace of technological progress continually accelerates. New products will become obsolete ever more quickly. Thus, businesses and industries will need to adopt their product development and accounting models to ever more quickly (if not immediately) recoup development costs, and will need to continuously improve and update their products more and more. Financial profits relying on a durable ‘mature’ phase of products’ lifespans will increasingly become an obsolete concept.

Increasingly frenetic need for businesses and industries to change. Indeed, the paces of change engendered by the three laws clearly mean that businesses and entire industries will have to adapt to ever‑accelerating changes. If they don’t quickly adapt, they will fail. A newspaper executive who was unfamiliar with the dynamics of the three laws and the unprecedented technological changes they are engendering, recently asked me, “When will all the change in our industry end?” Although I was tempted to joke, “Next Thursday,” the changes affecting his and others’ industries aren’t about to stop but will accelerate until the paces of change become, well, somewhat mind-boggling. Only an economic depression or widespread war can slow or stop the ever-accelerating pace of technological change. Otherwise, an ever-widening array of traditional products, tradition business models, traditional business practices, traditional devices, and traditional trades and employments will increasingly be disrupted, uprooted, replaced, or eliminated. This has begun to happen and will happen ever more quickly than during previous years, decades, or centuries. It means increasing instability for traditional companies and traditional industries. There will be ever more business mergers, bankruptcies, closures, even failures of entire industries. Some industries will meld or incidentally blur with others. (For example, who a decade ago would have predicted that Nokia, rather than Kodak, would become the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer cameras? Or that Nokia, which had the world’s dominant share the mobile phone handset market, would itself largely implode within the span of only four years? Or Apple Computer Company would become a major vendor of recorded music and of mobile phone handsets?) As the pace of technological changes continues to accelerate and waves of change come ever more quickly, businesses and industries will need to implement organizational and production changes ever more quickly to survive. One can’t surf behind a wave of change. The most successful organizations during the 21st Century will be those that can predict the figurative hydrodynamics of its environment and ride ahead of each wave.

Brand names are decreasingly a defense against change or decline. As the pace of technological advancements continues to accelerate, as waves of change become ever more frequent and the ‘mature’ phase of products and services become ever shorter, traditional companies that hope their established brands will extenuate or palliate that turbulence or turmoil will discover that the ‘goodwill’ value of their brands will become increasingly less. There primarily are two factors for this:

The first is simply that the inertial momentum of an establish brand can itself hobble or thwart that adaptation. A long-established brand can easily become an anchor, chaining consumers’ perceptions of that company to its old and now obsolete products rather than adapted products. For examples, during the past decade separate studies by the Medill University’s Readership Institute and by the  Media Management and Transformation Centre at Jönköping International Business School in Sweden have shown that many United States daily newspapers’ established brands, brands established and known for printed newsprint products, imparted no greater, and even sometimes negative, value to those same companies’ products put online. Consumers identify the brand with the old, not the new. Early in 2000 during a conference in New York City, the chief of Time Warner’s online efforts was asked what his corporation’s New Media strategy was. “We don’t yet fully understand the changes going on,” he said. “But Time Warner has been one of a handful of great media corporations during the 20th Century. So, we expect our brand to be one of the great New Media corporations during the 21st Century, just like American Online, Amazon, Ebay, PayPal, Google, and Yahoo!” I don’t think he realized the unintentional paradox of his claiming that his corporation’s will axiomatically place it among wildly successful New Media companies whose own brands were virtually unknown or even non-existent only nine years earlier. (Or the irony of how later that year his corporation would itself be purchased by one of those brands –, in the most financially disastrous merger in business history.)

The second and more ultimately powerful reason why brands are decreasingly a defense against change or decline is that the branding’s rise as what had been a formidable marketing tool was rooted in scarcity. Brand initially arose as logotypes in cultures centuries ago when few people could read. A wooden carving of a shoe, hanging above the entrance to a shoemaker’s or cobbler’s shop showed the illiterate what that business was. Names themselves later became brands and logotypes. The strength of brands or logotypes lay in providing consumers with a sense of comfort and reliability about those brands’ or logotypes’ products or services. Having relatively scarce access to current reviews of all similar products and services available, perhaps seeing a review for one or another of those products or services one a year or less in a monthly magazine, consumers bought the product or service a brand they knew or perhaps trusted from previous purchases. As James Surowiecki of The New Yorker magazine recently remarked:

“When consumers had to rely on advertisements and their past experience with a company, brands served as proxies for quality: if a car was made by G.M., or a ketchup by Heinz, you assumed that it was pretty good. It was hard to figure out if a new product from an unfamiliar company was reliable or not, so brand loyalty was a way of reducing risk. As recently as the nineteen-eighties, nearly four-fifths of American car buyers stayed loyal to a brand.

“Today, consumers can read reams of research about whatever they want to buy…..what’s weakened the power of brands is the Internet, which has given ordinary consumers easy access to expert reviews, user reviews, and detailed product data, in an array of categories. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eight percent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases, and a host of studies have logged the strong influence of those reviews have on the decisions people make. The rise of social media has accelerated the trend to an astonishing degree: a dud product can become a laughingstock in a matter of hours.”[3]

What has caused that is the epochal switch from relative scarcity to surplus in people’s access and choices of information about products and services. Some traditional branding consultants, attempting to adjust to that switch, claim that brands become ever more important now that consumers no have relative scarce access to information. Yet Surowiecki and others note that a recent study by Ernest & Young reported that only 25 percent of Americans said that brand loyalty now affects how they shop.

Start-up companies have an ever-increasing advantage over traditional ones. If there’s a fourth ‘law’ atop the three I’ve mentioned, it’s Darwin’s[4], which dictates that in a changing environment the nimblest and the quickest to adapt have advantage over the biggest, fleetest, best fed, or the even sharpest-toothed. The ever-accelerating paces of changes favor start-up companies and start-up innovators (although too many attempt innovation without first understanding the underlying dynamics of the changes).

Academia will tend to adapt ever more slowly in proportion to the changes underway and certainly ever more slowly than people, companies, or industries do. A prime reason why is that most academics are employed for their expertise in traditional practices. They tend to be older individuals, many of whom haven’t worked for years (sometimes very many years or even decades) in the professions or trades that they teach. Changes can undercut their expertise. The faster the changes, the more insecure these older academicians can become and the more likely they will be to resist those changes, no matter if the changes have become manifest in their professions or trades. These older academicians hold senior positions (department chairman, faculty senators, etc.) and have tenure in institutions where the doctrine of Academic Freedom[5] is considered inviolate, so feel no great motivation to adapt their syllabi and teach something different that is becoming manifest. Many do adapt, but many others prefer to continue teaching what they best: the expertise of earlier times. Compounding this resistance, younger academicians who seek tenure, a sinecure granted by senior academicians, often find its pursuit safer if they focus on traditional rather than changed practices, particularly when changes are accelerating and volatile. That is particularly true of those younger academicians who’ve never actually worked in the professions or trades they teach, who’ve become academicians immediately after their own graduations. These overall systemic problems tend to make academia lag, even resist, at adapting to changes.

The law lags ever more behind. The slowest of all sectors of society to adapt to change are laws and regulations. These will lag ever further as the change accelerates. The number of discrepancies, incongruities, and outright collisions between old laws and the new capabilities of technologies will increase not only in number but spread to codicils yet untouched. This is primarily because laws and regulations, rather than foster revolutionary change, tend to protect the companies and industries that are traditional and well-established. Those companies and industries, and their lobbyists, use laws and regulations as cudgels against prospects of change. Yet however blunt or heavy, these legislative and regulatory cudgels ultimately never reach far enough, matter how bloodied, change ineluctably wins.

One observable macro-effect of the three laws’ interactions is the ending to the ‘Digital Divide’ (i.e., poor people not being able to afford computer technologies and online services). The effects of Moore’s Law constantly decrease the expense of technologies. Likewise, Cooper’s and Butters’ Laws is constantly increasing the ease and access by which people can connect and use such technologies. During the Industrial Era, decades used to elapse before the poor could afford the technologies of the rich, but the meteoric pace of change brought by computerization is ever shortening that lapse. For examples, there are now more mobile phones used by Africans than Europeans or North Americans, despite those two other continents having more than 20-times Africa’s per capital incomes. A recent survey in Honduras, the second poorest country in the Americas, found that even the lowest-income households (i.e., those likely to lack running water) possessed not only a mobile phone (handset street price equivalent to USD5 plus rechargeable ‘pay-as-you-go’ calling credits) but a LCD‑screen DVD player (street price USD20) and a microwave oven (which are cheaper to purchase than conventional ovens and require no physical installation). A few years ago in South Africa, I met a successful local entrepreneur whose business in the huge ghetto township in which he resided was to solicit collection of  mobile phone videos of weddings, anniversaries, and other events, and to turn those videos into DVDs, which he then sold for $0.50 each as an electronic form of community newspaper. He succeeded because so many people in the township owned mobile phones and DVD players.

Poor countries are beginning to afford and utilize advanced technologies that only rich countries had been able to afford. In some cases, poor countries are leap-frogging rich countries in technological infrastructure. Countries such as Mongolia or Montenegro now have more advanced telephone infrastructures than do the United States or the United Kingdom, simply because not only are new technologies for telephones now less expensive to purchase but are easier to install in less developed countries that don’t have vested legacies and that delay installing advancement until the costs of older technologies are amortized. Moore’s and Cooper’s laws made mobile telephony relatively inexpensive and easier to deploy than copper-wired telephony.  Meanwhile, Moore’s and Butters’ laws are causing wired systems to be replaced by photonics, which is phenomenally cheaper signal-carrying capacity/costs than copper wire.

Increasingly large technological gaps within peer groups. Although the three laws’ interactions are closing the ‘Digital Divide’, an odd macro‑effect is that the interactions are causing technological fissures within peer groups. When the paces of change were slower, the technologies affordable and used by a demographic rank were generally the same for long durations. For example, audio recordings sold in the form of vinyl discs for gramophones (i.e., phonographs), a technology invented in 1889, were for some 100 years the primary musical entertainment technology for consumers. Audio recorded on Compact Discs (‘CDs’) began superseding gramophone discs around 1989, but themselves had much shorter popularity before beginning to be superseded in turn by directly downloaded audio recordings. For video recordings, the progression from Video Home System (‘VHS’) tapes to Digital Versatile Discs (‘DVD’s) to directly downloaded video recordings showed even shorter technological ‘half-lives’. The progression from analog mobile telephone handsets to digital ones to Internet-equipped digital ones to broadband Internet-equipped digital ones to ‘smartphones’ has shown remarkably short technological ‘half-lives’.  Consumers have to adjust to new technologies ever more quickly.

The result is that households within demographic peer groups are increasingly less likely to all be using the same levels of technology. This result occurs less among younger peer groups, who always tend to adapt more quickly than any other demographic, but this result is becoming ever more easily observable among older peer groups. It seems increasingly unlikely that all consumers—even most peers within a demographic rank—will ever again all be using the same platform, nonetheless using any one platform for a decade or more. Our grandparents or parents might have used gramophone records or Compact Discs for decades, but our children probably won’t use any one medium platform or device for long. Last year in a popular restaurant in my town, I overhead a foursome of ladies in their seventies discuss whether or not they used personal computers much, while nearly another table of women the same age was comparing various speech-to-text software programs. Wide technological gaps like that within a common demographic were highly unlikely in previous generations, but will probably be common occurrence for the future. As science fiction writer William Gibson quipped, “The future is here, just unevenly distributed.”

The best skill to learn is how to learn new skills. During previous centuries and generations, the skill one learned young generally was the skill one used all one’s life. For example, if you apprenticed as a baker, it was very likely that you’d be a baker all your life. However, this dynamic began ending two or three generation ago, and has now become ever more unlikely. It’s not unusual for educated people in developed countries to have not only more than one job during their lifetimes, but a career spent in more than one industry. As the ever-accelerating paces of change make previous technologies increasingly obsolete, and with those obsolete technologies more and more businesses, trades, and industries, archaic, obsolete (‘disrupted’), or defunct, many skills learned young (such as in college) will also become archaic, obsolete, or defunct. This new dynamic will put increasing pressure on the traditional system of providing education primarily before people are aged in their mid-twenties. People that old have the majority of their careers ahead of them, during which they will experience an extraordinary amount of changes – likely more changes than all previous human generations combined. They will thus probably need constant retraining and continuing education rather than relying upon only what they learned in consecutive years of secondary and higher education during their teens and early twenties. They will need to learn how constantly to learn new skills. I believe the business models of colleges and universities, in order for such institutions to survive and be relevant in the 21st Century, must change to focus primarily on continuing education rather simply than educating young people.

Increasingly polarized societies. Fear of change is called metathesiophobia. Change causes anxiety and stress in most people: indeed, in most creatures. History holds many precedents showing that when stressed by change, large numbers of people will seek comfort in traditional values, theories, and practices, rather than accept change. As the English historian A.P.J. Taylor explained (using the British term for this macro-effect), “Toryism rests on doubt in human nature; it distrusts improvement, clings to traditional institutions, and prefers the past to the future. It is a sentiment rather than a principle.” (Some historical examples are the Roman Catholic Church’s retreat from, and later persecution of Galileo and other heliocentrics; the German people’s conservative electoral swerve during the Great Depression; or the rise of the American conservative movement once the practical limits of United States global hegemony or power were reached during the 1970s.) Many people, including those who offer pay lip-service to change, retreat into the seeming sanctuary of tradition as a defense against change. This sociological effect by itself exacerbates cultural or industrial adaption to change, creating turbulence, difficulties, and polarization of large segments of society. Given the ever‑accelerating paces of Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ Laws, those problems might become more formidable, even chaotic, during coming years.

An appointment with Fermi’s Paradox. Indeed, as Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ laws double their paces every nine to 30 months, creating hyperbolic technological progress, some reputable futurists believe that during the first half of this century the sheer pace of change — unless checked by war or economic depression — will ultimately skyrocket so rapidly it will merge into a ‘singularity’ that will “rupture the fabric of human history”. According to their predictions, new products, services, business models, even new ideas, will eventually become almost instantly obsolete, almost immediately replaced by newer, until our technological capabilities will eclipse our caution and comprehension. This concept of a technological ‘singularity’, which some other futurists criticize as alarmist or as a techno-utopian fantasy, might seem absurd to laymen, yet the observable validity of Moore’s, Cooper’s, Butters’ laws, and similar dynamics, indicates its possibility. I hope the truth will be somewhere between those two contrasting views. Perhaps people’s (i.e., individual’s, households’, industries’, societies’, and governments’) limited human capabilities to deal with such a pace of change will create a sufficient behavioral constraint on such hyperbolic changes that no mind-boggling absurdities become reality. If not, however, the instabilities of human actions or reactions to ever-accelerating technologies will probably lead to war or economic chaos or worse: human inability to be a species that transcends what’s known as Fermi’s Paradox. During a casual lunchtime conversation with other physicists in 1950, the Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi ventured a series of rapid calculations estimating that the probabilities of earthlike planets and possible intelligent life elsewhere among the billions of stars in our galaxy are good; that some of those other forms of intelligent forms might be millions or billions of years more advanced than humans; and that such unimaginably advanced civilizations might have technologies that easily permit or otherwise have had time for vast interstellar travels. Yet “Where are they?” a mystified Fermi exclaimed. That scientific mystery has become known as Fermi’s paradox. Many possible answers to it have been postulated, one of which is that technological civilizations may usually or invariably destroy themselves before or shortly after developing nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons.

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When Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ Laws Interact on Media

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Alone, neither Moore’s Law nor Cooper’s Law nor Butter’s Law would have led to the world we know today and the one we will know in the future. During the past 50 years, Moore’s Law, without the bandwidths of fiber optic doubling approximately every nine months and of wireless doubling approximately every three years, would have resulted merely in very powerful computers barely able to communicate and network with each other at much more than teletype speeds. Butter’s Law without computer chip power doubling approximately every two years would have led to no reason to use fiber optics; the world would still be using woefully slow copper wires for its long-distance communications and have been unlikely to ever been able to support the deployment of local, regional, and long distance mobile telephone communications, etc. The three laws’ interactions are the ultimate cause of the tumultuous changes and progress underway.

As these three laws interact, their blended speed of technological changes increasingly accelerates (not as quickly as Butter’s Law but neither as slowly as Cooper’s Law), resulting in the momentum of changes increasing geometrically faster than its own increasing acceleration. The force of these technological changes grows cubic to the pace of changes, according to Newton’s Second Law of Motion.

Moreover, as more and more traditional devices (automobiles, airliners, refrigerators, bicycles, student and teacher desks, bar tops and counter tops, furniture, ski goggles or eyeglasses with heads-up displays, etc.) are replaced by internally computerized and photonically or wirelessly networked replacements, the interactions of Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ ‘laws’ gather even more amplified momentum than just their accelerations render, an effect due to a fourth ‘law’, Metcalf’s (named after the co-inventor of Ethernet, Robert Metcalf), which observes that the power of any networked item is proportional to the square of the number of devices connected to the network.

Thus, the force of technological changes very quickly becomes inexorable, creating pressures that the traditional practices and traditional technologies within any industry cannot withstand, a concept that many traditional media executives, who are used to linear changes, tend to find either confusing or incomprehensible.

In developed countries, the effects of Moore’s Law have been visible for a few decades; those of Cooper’s Law for only a few years; and those of Butters’ Law are only beginning to be seen. All will soon be readily apparent. Media analysts and academicians who talk only of Moore’s Law as a means of understanding the changes underway see only a one-dimensional of the perspective rather than the fully-formed three-dimensional situation created by the interactions of Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ laws.

The observable dynamics of Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ ‘laws’ are the ultimate causes of all the changes underway in the media environment.

Now, let’s examine the ramifications — the proximate effects — of the three ‘laws’ interactions in the media environment. In other words, no longer why the media are changing but the more practical topic of how the media are changing.

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(However, if you’d first like to read about some corollary effects of the three laws’ interactions that go beyond just the media industries, go here.)

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Butter’s Law Acting on Media

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We don’t live in a ‘wired’ world, but a ‘fibered’ world. Wired communications is obsolete. Metallic wires could never have sustained the phenomenal growth of the Internet and of the global telecommunications networks in general. The world’s capacity to use telephones and networked computers would have expired and collapsed more than a dozen years ago if not for two telecommunications inventions of the 1960’s ad 1970’s: lasers and fiber optics. The constant acceleration of those combined technologies, known as Butters’ Law, makes the speed of Moore’s Law look like a snail’s pace.

Copper fibers had been used as the sole means of electronic communications from 1837 until 1880 and as the primary means of interpersonal telecommunications until the 1990’s. Copper fibers are still how most of the world’s wired telephones inside homes and offices get their signals from telephone poles or underground junction boxes outside. But simply an electrical signal through a copper wire, be that signal the on-off binary of Morse Code telegraphy or amplitude sine wave of a voice telephone call, has a physical speed limit which was first hit during the late 1870’s, a speed limit of approximately 30-kilobytes (0.03 megabytes) per second. Although that’s far faster than anyone could use a telegraph key, during the early age of telegraphy it meant that only one telegraph could be sent at a time through any single copper wire, a burden to any commercial telegraph system linking together major cities or countries. Even today, it means that a copper wire phone line is incapable of delivering stereophonic sounds (which requires more than 30-kilobytes of information per second).

During the 1880s, an English telegrapher and self-taught electrical engineer, Oliver Heaviside, found that by first converting signals into a radio wave, rather than a simple electrical pulse, multiple signals could be sent simultaneously down a copper fiber if each signals was sent at a different radio frequency and if the copper fiber carrying the signals was itself sheathed within a tube of copper mesh that blocked outside radio signals. His invention was the coaxial cable, which he patented. When wireless radio was invented by Guglielmo Marconi and by Nikola Tesla each independently during the following decade, the radio industry utilized copper coaxial cables to deliver their radio signals from transmission studios to transmitter towers, as did the television industry in later decades. However, there was still an intrinsic transmission speed limit to copper wire used with radio or television signals: a few gigabytes per second aggregate total for all the signals carried. Moreover, those wired signals needed to be amplified at least every 20 kilometers or so. By the 1960’s, the telephone, radio, television, and other industries were looking for a faster alternative to keep pace with the growth of telecommunications.

Light operates as much faster frequencies than do television or radio signals (150-terabytes compared to 1-gigabytes or 3-megabytes per second respectively). Thanks to Albert Einstein’s explanation in 1905 of the Photoelectric Effect, physicists had by the early 1960’s had developed first microwave and then laser signaling and receiving devices that could communicate across long distance outdoors. During the 1970’s, they’d miniaturized these photo-electronic devices (see Moore’s Law) enough to be able to send their laser signals through fibers of glass, a science now called photonics but colloquially known as fiber optics.

The transmission capacity limit of photonics is yet unknown. For example, physicists recently demonstrated a photonic system capable of delivering the contents of 700 DVD discs in a single second – nearly 3 terabytes or 3 million megabytes per second – an unlimited distance over a fiber optic cable thinner than a human hair. These superb capacities have led telecommunications companies worldwide to begin replacing their copper wire fiber networks with fiber optic ones. In all but very rural areas of developed countries, that work has been completed to the point at which the only remaining copper fiber or coaxial cables left are those remaining inside homes or offices themselves.

The phenomenal capacities of photonics and how increasingly faster signals can be transmitted through fiber optics led Gerald Butters, the scientist who formerly headed Lucent’s Optical Networking Group at Bell Labs, to see if he could make an observation similar to Moore’s Law for its advance. Like Cooper, he looked back at the transmission speeds of early photonics and forward to the present. He found that the speed at which information can be communicated through fiber optic circuits has been doubling every nine months, an observation that since become known as Butters’ Law.

That is an astonishing pace of accelerating capacity! By the time that Moore’s Law has merely doubled computer chip power, photonic capacity has increased 6.35 times. By the time that Cooper’s Law has doubled wireless capacity, photonic capacity has increased 16 times! And those increases in photonic capacity are just along a single strand of fiber. When strands like that are used to connect ever more computers in a network, such as the Internet, the communications capacity further increases according to Metcalfe’s Law, which states that the capacity of the network is proportional to the square (n2)of the number of connected computers! Imagine a network whose individual links can double in capacity every nine months yet also have that networks aggregate capacity additionally increase by the square number of its users during those nine months; because that is what’s happening. The resulting increase in capacity is astronomical!

Most people who live in developed countries where photonics are in widespread usage by telecommunications industry won’t see the transmission speeds provided by their Internet Service Provider companies double every nine months or certainly accelerate into the terabytes per second range in the immediate years. Those companies aren’t able to install and amortize the newest photonic technologies through their networks as quickly as Butters’ Law is accelerating, and most of the increased transmission capacity those companies for which those companies have been able to avail themselves has been used keeping pace with the increasing numbers of cable TV channels, of on-demand video deliveries, and of long-distance conveyance of mobile telephony. Nevertheless, most home and office users of wired Internet access (and mobile Internet access, too) have seen steady increases in transmission speeds and capacities. At the beginning of this decade, home Internet speeds of, at most, 1- to 3-megabyte were the norm, but now 5- to 50-megabytes per second are common. The European Commission has proposed that all new households in the 27-nation European Union be wired for 100-megabyte per second Internet access by 2020 (the initial minimum proposed is 30-megabyte per second).

The ramifications of Butters’ Law are mind-boggling and will have tremendous effects on 20th Century media industries such as telephony, broadcasting, and cinema, as well as on 21st Century media developments such as holography projections, augmented or virtual reality, and whatever other new forms of communications come next.

One of the practical effects of Butters’ Law is that probably by the end of this decade the time it takes to download or upload a song, a photograph, or a high‑definition movie via a modem connected to fiber optics won’t be perceptible. People now old enough to remember dial-up modems might think that to be incredible but by 2020, at the current pace of Butters’ law, all the textual information currently in the U.S. Library of Congress could be downloaded within a minute or the entire inventory of a Hollywood movie studio (nonetheless a single movie) within five minutes. The next generation won’t know the meaning of the phrase, ‘waiting to download’.

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Cooper’s Law Acting on Media

Martin Cooper
Martin Cooper

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As much as Moore’s Law affects the world in terrific ways, it alone would result merely in very powerful but isolated and unconnected computer boxes, with no broadband networking, no Internet, not even anything online, were not for two similar observations or so-called laws. Although these two other dynamic laws of technology are taught in my classroom, they need also be taught in any classroom that teaches Moore’s Law. Moreover, every technology or media executive who needs to predict or understand the future needs to understand the two as well as Moore’s Law.

The acuity of Moore’s observation prompted radio telecommunications scientist Martin Cooper, the inventor of the mobile phone, to notice a similar dynamic in the progression of wireless communications. He observed that the number of wireless signals that can simultaneously be transmitted without interfering with each other has been doubling approximately every 30 months since the early 1900s.

When in 1901 Guglielmo Marconi began wirelessly transmitting (‘broadcasting’) Morse code across the Atlantic, radio technology was so primitive that his signal used a significant fraction of the world’s radio spectrum. Had radio not advanced technologically, today there would be room within the electromagnetic spectrum for no more than eight radio stations in the world.

Yet wireless communications technology has been advancing at the pace Cooper’s observed. The number of radio signals in the world that can today be simultaneously sent without interfering with each other (calculations involving effective signal strength and how finely technology has diced the electromagnetic spectrum) is more than one trillion. If Cooper’s Law continues apace, by 2070 each person on Earth will theoretically be able to use the entire radio spectrum himself without interfering with anyone else’s signals. An infinite answer!

The practical effects of Cooper’s Law are readily observable to people who live in developed nations. It is why a roomful of people can now simultaneously use their mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets, WiFi laptops, etc., without those devices’ signals interfering with one other. There are ever fewer places where mobile phone voice and Internet connections can’t be received and at ever higher speeds. Not only are homes and offices now equipped with wireless information access to the Internet, but so are some entire citiesand countries (Bahrain, Barbados, Estonia, and Malta have become wireless information fields.) During 2011, a new WiFi standard called WRAN was announced, which is capable from a single antenna of delivering a 22-megabyte per second Internet connection over 12,000 square miles (30,720 sq. km.), an area the size of the country of Taiwan or the U.S. State of Maryland.

This steady rise of wireless capabilities also has allowed access and distribution of news, entertainment, advertising, and other information to become truly mobile. Cooper’s Law means that readily obtaining a wireless Internet connection of tens, if not hundreds, of megabytes per second speeds anywhere in the developed world will be the norm by the end of this decade. Wireless Internet access will reach an even larger human population than will have access to electricity. And the very concept of waiting for something to download wirelessly will soon fade away as a practical concern, as will the questions of whether or not a person in those countries can connect wirelessly to ‘cloud-based’ services. (The only barriers that remain won’t be technological but corporate or governmental policies.)

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Moore’s Law Acting on Media


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The more transistors a standard-sized computer chip contains, the more computation power it has, the more calculations it can make, and the more problems it can solve. Physicist Gordon Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corporation, observed that the sheer numbers of transistors which manufacturers were able to miniaturize and place on a standard chip had been doubling approximately every 18 to 24 months. The practical effects of what he observed were that the new chips had twice the power of the old after that time or that the old chip’s price halved (in actually, it’s not purely an either-or but can as easily be a blending of those two effects). He published this observation, which has subsequently become known as Moore’s Law.

His observation proved prescient. He first made it in 1965, and Moore’s Law has held true for more than 50 years. Although a state-of-the-art computer chip in 1965 contained hundreds of transistors, such a chip today contains several billion.

Will this accelerating pace of computer power continue forever? The practicality of Industrial Era experience says no, but the theory of Informational Era science indicates possibly yes. The Industrial Era wanes while the Informational Era dawns. During this past twenty ten years, the accelerating advance of what Moore observed has been thought to approaching some theoretical limitations of physics: namely that a transistor cannot be manufactured smaller than a molecule. Nevertheless, most computer scientists believe that Moore’s Law will continue apace at least through the remainder of this decade. And many believe that if quantum computing, which doesn't utilize transistors and operates at the subatomic level, proves practical, Moore Law will profoundly accelerate rather than slow or stop.

Besides breaking the molecular size barrier for the equivalent of a transistor, quantum computing imparts the extraordinary and somewhat mind-boggling realm of quantum science effects. For example, a quantum computer doesn't sequentially try every combination to break a code, as an analog or digital computer would; a quantum computer at the same instant instead simultaneously applies every possible combination as if time didn't exist! If acceleration is a calculation of how much faster something applies itself through time, then imagine how fast acceleration would be if all time were instantaneous. Quantum computer promises awe-inspiring breakthroughs in computing. Nevertheless, the state of quantum computers today is largely akin to the level that analog computers were at during the early 1940’s. Worse, quantum computers are hugely difficult to manufacture and operate, sensitive to the slightest outside electromagnetic interference and radiation. However, the first commercially-available rudimentary quantum computer has been developed by a Canadian firm with a U.S. defense contractor as its initial customer[2] and Google as its second customer

What does Moore’s Law have to do with the media industries? The conventional answer being taught in media schools is that it means the computerized devices that consumers and media industry workers will use become either twice as powerful or half as expensive (or some combination of both) every 18 to 24 months. Although that’s an entirely correct answer, it’s a woefully myopic one.  Not only are computerized devices utilized by consumers to consume media contents and by media industry workers to create such contents, but computerized devices also are utilized companies involved in the media contents distribution chain but that who want to circumvent or eliminate the other intermediary companies now between content creators and consumers and computerized devices also are non-media companies, including start-up companies, that are not now involved in producing or distributing media content but might want to become so involved. The ever-accelerating pace of Moore’s Law every approximately 18 to 24 months makes all those types of companies twice as capable of disrupting or eliminating existing media companies or entire media industries or makes it half as costly for all those types of companies to launch such attacks against existing media companies during that time. Moore’s Law, of course, also gives the existing media companies and industries equal capacities or equally lesser costs when defending against such attackers (provided that the existing media companies and industries grasps such tools and react quickly enough). Nonetheless, this ever-accelerating technological arms race creates ever more industrial and commercial volatility; ever greater momentum for the attackers; and every greater challenges and disadvantages for legacy or traditional media companies and industries.

Simply put, the consequence of Moore’s Law for the media industries is that the more transistors that can be placed on a standard computer chip, the more disruptions and replacements there will be for traditional media products, traditional media applications, and traditional media practices. The constant acceleration of Moore’s Law means that every 18 to 24 months the tumult, disruption, and chances of extinction for traditional media industries double plus are half as expensive to foment. 

Woe to any media industry or media company that doesn't quickly adapt before the pace of changes overwhelms it. For many, if not most, media companies and industries in post-industrial nations, it’s already too late. American daily newspaper publishers frequently ask me, “When is all this change going to stop?” Although I’m tempted to tell them, ‘Next Tuesday,’ the real answer is that, barring catastrophic war or economic collapse, the changes aren't going to stop.

You need look back only to the history of the personal computer to see how the accelerating pace of Moore’s Law constantly doubles disruptive effects. Although I’ll generalize a bit in the following descriptions, I won’t be far off the historical mark:

  • When the personal computer was invented during the 1970's, one of its earliest popular applications was as the replacement for the typewriter. This was because, when combined with an electronic printer, a personal computer can do everything that a typewriter could, but better and faster. The personal computer began ending the typewriter industry.
  • Then, as Moore’s Law progressed during the subsequent 18 to 24 months, new personal computers became twice as powerful, capable of twice as many possibilities, without costing more. Besides, being used as a replacement for the typewriter, personal computers replaced manually-calculated accounting spreadsheets, because a personal computer could calculate and update spreadsheets far more quickly and accurately than could accountants manually can with ink with paper. The personal computer, in addition to ending the typewriter industry, began ending the paper ledge/adding machine industry – doubling the number of disruptions it causes from 18 to 24 months ago.
  • As another 18 to 24 months progressed, a total of 36 to 48 months from the personal computer’s invention, personal computers added two more new capabilities or applications, which, for the sake of brevity we’ll not describe but merely list as now totaling disruptions of four industries.

And so the doubling of power, so the geometric progression of new applications and capabilities of personal computers were engendered. The total number of traditional industries, traditional devices, and traditional practices disrupted continued to climb geometrically:

  • By between 54 to 72 months (six years) after the personal computers’ inventions, the overall number of personal computer’s new capabilities and applications grew to eight, as did the number of traditional industries disrupted.
  • By between 72 to 96 months (eight years), 16 industries were disrupted.
  • After 90 to 120 months (ten years), 32 industries disrupted.
  • By the late 1980's, 108 to 120 months after personal computers’ invention, the number of new capabilities or applications for personal computers, and numbers of industries facing disruption from personal computers, would have reached the hundreds.
  • After ten to 14 years, the number of applications or capabilities for personal computers, and the number of industries disrupted, was in the hundreds.
  • By the 1990's, 16½ to 22 years after the personal computer’s invention, there were thousands of capabilities and applications, thousands of industries disrupted, by personal computers.
  • Today, 30 to 40 years after personal computer’s invention, there are millions of capabilities and applications for personal computers, and nearly every industry on the planet has, in some way or another, been disrupted by them. Worldwide, millions of factory jobs in developed have been lost to the automation of manufacturing that personal computer chip technologies have caused; plus the loss of millions of potential jobs in developing countries, manual jobs that might have otherwise existed.

Moreover, as more and more other devices, conveyances, constructions, and contraptions – such as phone, televisions, automobiles, refrigerators and other kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures, mirrors, and walls, etc. – have or are becoming equipped with computer chips, the capabilities and applications that have already become established in personal computers are transplanted into those. This is why the relatively new categories of devices known as ‘smartphones’ and tablet computers already have more than half a million applications within only a few tens of months after those devices own inventions.

Another effect of the advance of Moore’s Law is that it increasingly makes software and hardware easier to use. A person no longer needs a computer science or information technology degree to operate a website, blog, or online store, as would have been the cases a 15 years or more ago. Complex software is required to for easy-to-use interfaces (such as touchscreens or voice recognition) to operate, and that requires powerful computer chips so that the complex software can process information quickly. The further Moore’s Law advances, the easier it is for people to use computerized devices, or for those interaction to seem nearly ‘magical’ to people.

Next webpage: Cooper's Law Acting on Media

Index of the Rise of Individuated Media webpages

 © 2015

Arco de las Puntas, Isla El Hierro, Canary Islands.


One of the most audacious New Media projects I’ve been involved with as a viability consultant is Outernet, my friend Syed Karim‘s project to bring free Internet access to more than four billion people. He plans to do this by piggybacking a fleet of mini-satellites onto commercial satellite launches. These mini-satellites, known as cubesats (each a 10 cm cube weighing no more than 1.33 kg), will provide Internet access (albeit mainly text access) to the majority of the world’s people, who don’t live in regions where Internet access is affordable or even receivable, which is a surprisingly large portion of the planet’s inhabited landmasses. Hundreds of cubesats have been launched for other non-profit purposes during the past 11 even years. Karim and his Outernet team have already raised the US$10 million necessary to build and launched their network of cubesats. CNN recently featured a story about him. Prior to his heading the Outernet project, I’ve known him as Director of Innovation at the Media Investment Loan Fund, a position he still holds. I’ve been an adviser to MDIF for the past seven years.

 Spain recently passed a law that would require online news abstractors and aggregaters, such as Google News, to pay royalties to Spain’s periodical publishers. It’s a bone-headed law, but not surprising that at least one developed country would pass such a law, pressured by the publishers’ lobbying. Those publishers haven’t adjusted to individuation of their contents – the fact that each person online wants to be able to search (or otherwise find or be delivered) only for the stories that match that person’s own unique mix of needs, interests, and tastes, and to be able to receive such stories from all vendors and publications without having to purchase all those publications. The news law is a desperation move at the behest of those publishers. Google announced that Google News will shutdown in Spain on Tuesday. Similar machinations have been underway in Germany. Subsequent stories about the Spanish law – as well as my own talks with Spanish friends (disclosure: my wife is a Spaniard) – indicate that the new law is immediately unpopular among Spain’s online consumers. Rumors have begun that AEDE (the Spanish daily newspaper publishers association) may be having second thoughts about the law. However, I should note that Google’s policies about recording its users actions have often, and probably still do, violate the European Union’s 1995 Consumer Data Privacy regulations, something that few American commentators deign to mention. I only regret that this particular case occurred three weeks too late for me to feature it in the the week’s class on Internet Law that I teach in my postgraduate New Media Business course at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. It’ll be part of the syllabus there next year.

Forget what’s being called Wearable Computing technologies.  The BBC this week reports from Sweden about Implantable Computing technologies.






Proximate Remarks & Ultimate Causations

Previous webpage: The Greatest Change in the History of Media

Let’s be frank about the media industries. Most of its executives don’t care a hoot about exactly what is causing the tumultuous changes in their business environment. What they want, almost regardless of the problems, are solutions that can propel their careers and businesses into profits. They’re like recreational surfers: they just want someone to tell them where the good waves are rather than them spending time learning ocean hydrodynamics. Indeed, if the majority of media executives care at all about what’s causing the gargantuan changes in their business environment, they’ll look at the proximate, not the ultimate, causes of those changes.

Yet champion surfers know to look beyond the proximate and understand the ultimate causes of waves. Although they know that finding great waves is the most practical and proximate of their needs, they can reliably find those waves only if they understand the ultimate causation. I’ll thus detail some webpages from here the proximate and practical causes of the gargantuan change underway in the media environment, but first let’s examine what ultimately are causing all of it to happen.

When differentiating between the proximate and ultimate, I ask my graduate students what caused the destruction during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or the 2010 Japanese tsunami. Most answer a great wave of water. That indeed is the proximate causation of the destruction. However, the ultimate causation was the undersea earthquake that causes the great wave.


At various times in human history, scientific or technological breakthroughs have caused seismic changes in civilizations and humans’ lives. Discovery of how to make fire was the first. Discovery of agriculture was the second. A third discovery, metallurgy, immeasurably increased the power of humanity’s tools and weapons. The invention of writing allowed knowledge to be recorded beyond what could be passed down through oral history. The invention of the telescope 400 years ago led to knowledge that humanity isn’t the center of the universe, a discovery which had huge repercussions on religion, philosophy, and polity. In 1776, mechanical engineer James Watt’s invention of the motor fomented the Industrial Revolution, transforming civilization in ways still occurring. Most people today know that an invention several decades ago is now reshaping people’s lives, livelihoods, societies, politics, knowledge, and all else that preceded it. During the late 1950s, electrical engineers Jack Kilby and Philip Noyce invented the integrated circuit (commonly known now as the ‘semiconductor’ or ‘microchip’) upon which technology all of today’s computers and microelectronics is based.

Hardly anyone who works in media today doesn’t know that offices, homes, vehicles, phones, and myriad other devices and even appliances are being revolutionized or ‘disrupted’ by computerization. Many have notice or heard that these changes are accelerating. Some hope it will stop. Yet few truly understand that whatever they might have so far seen will pale by comparison to what are going to occur or just how quickly.

This chapter is a primer about that, aimed at people who work in the media industries. The chapter outlines the three dynamics whose combined effects are ‘disrupting’, revolutionizing, and transforming the media environment in ways that are only starting to show. It looks at each of those three ultimate causes of the changes underway and briefly examines the three causes’ combined effects.

The ultimate formulation is simple: the ever-accelerating interactions of Moore’s Law, Cooper’s Law, and Butters’ Law ultimately cause the gargantuan changes underway in the media environment. Moreover, changes in the media environment are merely side effects of those principles’ more comprehensive effects on the world.

Despite their nomenclature, Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ laws aren’t llegislations but principles based upon empirical observations about advanced technologies.  Moore’s Law concerns the advancements and expense of computer processing power; Cooper’s Law describes the advancements and capabilities of wireless communications; and Butter’s Law focuses on photonics, the communication of information through optical fiber cables.  These three principles are similar (indeed, the latter two were prompted by the first). The laws’ rippling interactions are transfiguring most of the world’s other industries, and even governments, societies, and civilization itself.

Next webpage: Moore’s Law Acting on Media

Index of the Rise of Individuated Media webpages

 © 2014


The First Innovative Thing I’ve Posted in Seven Years


My reputation as a New Media consultant to the news industry, including my appointment since 2007 to teach postgraduate New Media Business at Syracuse’s Newhouse School, largely result from work I did long ago.

For ten years beginning in 1993, I helped guide the strategies of major news organizations’ websites and their other online services. But by the turn of the century I realized that those strategies (known as ‘convergence’, ‘analog-to-digital’, and ‘digital first’, etc.) would ultimately fail and those news organizations’ websites, as well as their traditional products, would unavoidably become irrelevant and unsustainable in the near future. I then spent seven years sounding probably like the prophet of doom to the traditional media industries in post-industrial countries. The doom I predicted has since become apparent.

Since 2007, I haven’t done any innovative work—except that which is done in a room filled with some of the best postgraduate students and doctoral candidates from America, Europe, and Asia, who study the media business. They’ve an advantage over the middle-aged white executives who run most traditional media companies; they’ve grown up online, know New Media as natives, and so aren’t mired in media theories, doctrines, and practices that might have been valid in the 1960’s or 1980’s or even early 1990’s, ideas and concepts that are already obsolete.

Good teaching is a continuous experiment.  Bad teachers teach the same way every semester; like bad actors, they perform by rote. By contrast, good teachers use their classrooms not only to teach established concepts, but to teach themselves when and how established concepts have changed and are no longer relevant or true. In other words, the classroom is where good teachers refine their own understandings of what to teach. If a teacher’s own understanding of what he teaches doesn’t withstand the questionings and skepticism of hundred postgraduate students and doctoral candidates, then his understanding is merely an illusion.

I’ve been luckier than that. The academic freedom to teach what I think is true, no matter how unwanted those truths may be among hidebound executives or how heretical the truths are to traditional media academics, has been a godsend to my thinking. The easiest environment in which to shuck the encrusted dogma of 20th Century media thinking is to be surrounded at any time by dozens of smart young scholars who owe nothing to such dogma except that after their graduations they as media executives will inter it once and for all.

Ten years ago, after realizing that traditional media industries’ strategies of ‘convergence’, ‘analog-to-digital’, and ‘digital first’ will ineluctably fail and will never generate enough revenues to compensate for the revenue declines from the evaporation of those industries’ traditional products (printed periodicals, over-the-air and cable broadcasts, etc.), I turned my attention and that of my students to solving the problem of why. Why won’t ‘convergence’, ‘analog-to-digital’, and ‘digital first’ ever generate enough revenues to compensate for the revenue declines from the evaporation of media industries’ traditional products? Why are indeed those industries’ traditional products evaporating? The solution necessarily involves both questions.

My purpose in asking isn’t to save those industries’ traditional products or websites, but to establish what those industries should have done instead and what the successful new media of the 21st Century will do or are doing now. It’s now too late for most of those industries in the post-industrial countries, but there may still be time for media companies in developing or industrial countries to learn and adapt.

This then is a hyperlink to the first innovative work I’ve posted in nearly a decade, the result of my work with students at Syracuse’s Newhouse School, at South Africa’s Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership, and at several other institutes where I’ve taught or co-taught seminars. It encompasses my thinking about media for the 21st Century.

It starts by examining the misguided beliefs by most media executives and most media academicians today that the greatest change underway in the media environment is simply that consumers have changed their consumption habits from ‘analog’ to ‘digital’ or have mere become ‘wired’ or ‘hooked up’ to electronic devices; that websites or streaming media are electronic multimedia (‘converged’) versions of printed periodicals or broadcasts; and that the future of Mass Media domination will be in online and mobile platforms.

It then describes what is obvious about the changes actually underway in the media environment, which are far different than what the executives and academicians who are trained in the theories, doctrines, and practices of Industrial Era media, namely Mass Media, hope. It categorically states how and why Mass Media are artifacts of that waning era and already are no longer the predominant ways in which most the world’s people now obtain news and information and soon entertainment.  It is about Individuated Media, the new media engendered by the Informational Era, which we can see across the panorama of the media environment once we remove the blinders of Mass Media theory.

I had planned to publish this work online early in 2015, after my classes this semester end.  When seven years ago I’d conceived the core of this work and established its syllabus, I had hoped that what it states would now be obvious. It’s indeed obvious now not only to my students but to those of other media schools who I’ve queried. Nevertheless, dust and debris from the collapse of traditional Mass Media still obscures the sight of far too many media company executives and academicians who, trained in Mass Media, attempt to sustain those Industrial Era forms of media. So, even though I’m still writing the final sections of this work from drafts, I’m going to begin publishing it online now, in hope of guide some of their ways.

I call it The Rise of Individuated Media. Thirty short (three to eight typewritten pages) chapters of this work are now online (starting with a version of this posting). A further 40 are in final draft stages and will go online at a pace of one chapter every two or three days (an easy pace for me to post.) I welcome comments or corrections to this work. Because an aggregate of its many chapters is hard to read solely online, an electronic book version of the whole will in follow sometime in January.

Those chapters already online deal with:

  • Identifying what is the greatest change underway. The answer isn’t consumers switching their media consumption from ‘analog’ to ‘digital’. Or ‘multimedia’ or media industry ‘convergence’. Or ‘smartphones’, tablet computers, or even the Internet.
  • Focusing on what are the ultimate, not proximate, causes of all the changes underway. Knowing what ultimately causes the changes allows a person to identify and rather accurately predict what and how fast future changes will be, an invaluable skill for anyone formulating media company strategies or designing media products and services.
  • Seeing the complete spectrum of changes underway and not being blinded by just those glaringly obvious. There is an ideal ‘prism’ through which to view the entire spectrum. And in this work I divide the spectrum of change into three ‘color’ categories, each of which has its own hues:
    • The ‘greens’ which affect how people gravitate towards and around media contents.
    • The ‘reds’ which affect how media contents are transacted (and even when no monies are exchanged).
    • The ‘blues’ which affect how the very definitions of media contents, as well as production and delivery of those contents, have changed.
  • Why and when traditional Mass Media companies failed to foresee the real changes underway. And what the few traditional media companies that do survive will need to do to adapt, which also means what ‘pure-play’ media start-up companies in the 21st Century should already be doing.

Media academies that have excelled at Mass Media have been flummoxed by the changes underway, few of which conform to their theories and doctrines. These academies have reacted in either or both of two ways. They’ve created institutes or centers of ‘innovation’ in which Mass Media practices are simply continued in whatever is the latest devices. Or else they’ve created ‘entrepreneurial’ programs that involve students learning how to operate without corporate support or to start-up their own corporations.

However, true innovation isn’t the usage of new devices or new technologies, but how theories and doctrines change due to new technologies and new devices; it is the difference between carpentry and architecture. Moreover, planting entrepreneurial seeds in hopes that some might bloom is hardly a sound practice of agriculture.  As the innovative genius Nikolai Tesla said about his fellow inventor Thomas Edison, “I was almost a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor.” I herein offer a bit of theory about the New Media.

Digital Deliverance on 27 October 2014

Today is Digital Deliverance Managing Partner Vin Crosbie‘s 59th birthday, which means the start of his 60th year (which he will complete a year from today).

What happens when applied Social Media conflicts with existing laws? This month, the New York State attorney general claimed that most Airbnb listings in the city violate zoning and other laws. Earlier this year, officials in California and Pennsylvania claimed that car services like Uber and Lyft might be unlawful. The New York Times took a look. We will be looking at those three examples when next month we teach a class about where the Internet and laws conflict, in Syracuse University’s New Media Business post-graduate course.

 We’re sorry to hear a seminar being taught in St. Petersburg, Russia, by my friend Randy Covington, the director of the World Association of Newspapers-IFRA’s Newsplex Training Centre at the University of South Carolina , by Joe Bergantino, the executive director of the New England Center for Center for Investigative Reporting, was disrupted by Russian government agents earlier this month. Bergantino and Covington had recently presented the same seminar in Moscow and had, in Bergantino’s taught similar seminars “in China, Serbia, Vietnam, and other countries without interruption by government agents.” Covington and Bergantino were taken to government offices for several hours; presented to a judge; and found guilty, despite their not having had a chance to present a defense, of violating Russian immigration laws; and were the subjects of a Russian television news story. Covington and Bergantino were then released. We know from a variety of our clients that the Russian government, whose President Vladimir Putin only a few years ago was the keynote speaker when the World Association of Newspapers held its annual conference in Moscow, during the past two years has been clamping down on all foreign Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), notably those who teach or fund independent journalism.

Every forget which wing of the cavernous shopping mall you are in? South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunciations Research Institute has announced development of an indoor equivalent of a Global Positioning’ System accurate to within five meters (16 feet). Or make that within one clothing rack.

 Jaldeep Katwala at Media Helping Media has some excellent advice for journalists conducting interviews.




Purchase a Brick for Malaysiakini

In 2004, the offices the Malaysian investigative news website Malaysiakini rented in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Bangsar Utama were raided by police. That spooked the building’s landlord, who evicted the 14 year-old Malaysiakini. The site’s journalists briefly worked from a nearby fast-food restaurant that had a WiFi connection.

Malaysiakini has finally found a permanent home, purchasing an industrial building that will serve as its new office beginning next year.

Malaysiakini aims to make a sizable portion of @Kini open to the public.

“To grow, Malaysiakini needs a stronger foundation. Like a tree, this new building will help Malaysiakini plant deeper roots so it can be more stable as we seek to reach greater heights,” according to Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran.

The building – to be known as @Kini – will provide room for Malaysiakinito expand in the coming years, with ample workspace, meetings areas, training rooms and video studios. NONE

“It will offer better facilities forMalaysiakini‘s hard-working team – the true heroes who help deliver the news and views that matter,” said editor-in-chief Steven Gan.

“We envision regular forums, dialogues and movie screening to encourage public participation on burning issues. By opening our doors, we believe we can build something great – together,” said Premesh.

The building (right) will also have the country’s first live webcasting centre, where public forums and discussions can be held with audience participation, both at the venue and over the Internet.

KiniTV, the Internet TV arm of Malaysiakini, will be constructing a multi-purpose studio that uses the same broadcasting system of the “American Idol” shows. It will be implementing the “Open Studio” concept by welcoming civil society groups and people’s organisations to broadcast their programmes, as well as providing new media training.

@Kini was purchased at the price of RM6.1 million. Inclusive of renovations, duties and fees, the total cost is estimated to be around RM7 million (USD2.2 million). Malaysiakini plans to pay RM1 million in cash upfront and seek RM3 million in bank financing.

To alleviate the burden, Malaysiakini is looking to its supporters to raise RM3 million in the next two months through its “Buy a brick” campaign.

Contributions of any amount are welcome but every supporter who contributes RM1,000 (USD313) will get RM1,000 worth of subscription and advertising on Malaysiakini, as well as a brick with his or her name etched on it.

These bricks will be used to build an “appreciation” wall that will become a permanent feature in Malaysiakini‘s new building.


Malaysiakini targets to get 1,000 people for the RM1,000 bricks. It is also looking for corporate sponsors of either RM25,000 or RM50,000. They too will get prominent recognition in the building as well as an equal amount of advertising space onMalaysiakini in return.

“It’s a great way for individuals and corporations to show their support for independent media,” said Premesh.

The “Buy a brick” campaign kicked off with RM42,000 (USD13,130) already raised among Malaysiakini staff and their friends.

For more information on the building and how to supportMalaysiakini, please visit

The World’s Longest-Published Newspaper Successfully Transitions off Print

A Lloyd’s List edition from 1826.

The world’s longest-published newspaper will become a non-printed, totally online service nine weeks from now. On 20 December, Lloyd’s List, which has been continuously published since 1734, will no longer be available in print. It’s online edition for the Web have has been published for more than ten years and its edition for mobile phones has been published for several years.

Lloyd’s List, published by the  is considered by many experts to be one of the earliest English-language newspaper. Although it is primarily a shipping industry daily trade journal, that’s what the earliest English-language newspapers were: editions that not only published news of which ships were leaving or arriving port but what events were occurring in distant or foreign ports that might affect commerce. It was published weekly by by Edward Lloyd, the proprietor of Lloyd’s Coffee House in the City of London, who founded the insurance brokerage market named for him.

Now, 279 years later, the staff of Lloyd’s List has found that only two percent of the newspaper’s readers read the edition in print.

“The decision follows many years of customer research and preparation and is – first and foremost – designed to ensure that the service continues to evolve with customer demand. This is move supported by the overwhelming majority of our customers. Less than 2% of our readers currently use print-only and no other means to access Lloyd’s List. We have already undertaken years of investment in our digital and mobile platforms, but the move away from print will allow us more time and resource to build on that with innovative approaches to data and a more bespoke service that offers content tailored to individual customer needs,” said Editor Richard Meade.

We think the significance of Lloyd’s List ceasing print is that the world’s longest-published newspaper is among the world’s first successfully to no longer need to print.


Google Glasses

Journalism Schools’ Myopia When ‘Testing’ Google Glasses

Google Glasses
Google Glasses

How will journalists could use Google Glasses ? It’s the wrong question.

The right question for journalists to ask is how and why will people who consume media use Google Glasses (or similarly wearable optic interfaces)?

Whenever I encounter media professors or media researchers testing how journalists could use Google Glasses, I ask them this simple question: what proportion of Google Goggles users will be consumer and what proportion will be journalists? My guess is the ratio 20,000 to one. Thus, which of the following two topics is more important for journalism schools to research:

  • How will and why people use Google Goggles to consume news, entertainment, and information?
  • How will and why journalists use Google Goggles to produce news?

The first question is clearly more important than the latter.

Journalists, particularly when they have a new toy, too often ‘put the cart in front of the horse’. When examining a new device or a new process, they think, ‘How can I use this to do what I do?’ rather than asking ,”How will people want to use this?” Imagine a chef who sees a new kitchen appliance and thinks, “Is there any way I can use this new device to make Chicken Marengo?” when his restaurant’s customers might instead be hungry for something other than that dish. Any industry that continues producing what it wants to produce when instead that product is not what people want or how people want to use that product, will fail. Ask the tens of thousands of newspaper reporters in the U.S. who’ve become unemployed during the past seven years before they and their bosses lost touch with what people want from them.

When journalism schools study what impact Google Glasses might have on their profession, the schools need to focus on: which topics, types, and modes of news will people want to consume while wearing such devices?

There are at least five possible topics of study about Google Glasses, and three of those also are what schools also need to study about the effects smartphones will have journalism:

1. Geolocation – What topics, types, and modes of news will people want to consume based upon their exact location as they roam?
2. Recognition – What topics, types, and modes of news will people want to consume based upon what they see as they roam?
3. Augmented-Reality – How best to provide, display, and explain news visually so that it overlays what they see?

Google Glasses add at least two more topics journalism schools need to study:

4. Hands-Free ContextWhat multimedia interfaces can be used so that people can interact hands-free with news provided in Augmented-Reality? (Unlike smartphones with touchpad interfaces, Google Glasses rely largely upon voice commands and simple scrolling motions; all of which somewhat restrict, compared to other computerized devices, how people interact with the device.)
5. Kinesthetic Context – Because Google Glasses are literally looking at whatever the wearer is looking at that moment (unlike a Smartphone or camera, which must be aimed), an unwavering gaze, how should the topics, types, mode, and displays of news or other information be automatically changed according to not only where the wearer is but what the wearing is doing? For example, a stationary person might want different news than someone who is moving at 30 kilometers per hour through the same spot and different than someone who is moving 150 kilometers per hour though that spot. Detailed texts might be fine for a stationary person, but not someone biking or driving past.

Google Goggles were invented as ways for people to access access information in the context of their lives, not the journalists’ lives.

Unfortunately, most of the research being done about Google Glasses in journalism school focuses on how journalists might use these devices for recording audio or video (most specifically, reporter’s point-of-view videos). Much of that research is well-meant but misguided. By almost all standards, Google Glasses are inferior to hand-held video cameras or even clip-on video recording devices. No surprises there. So, why research how to use an inferior device just because among the many things it can do is reproduce badly the capabilities of better usable devices?. The five research topics I’ve mentioned are more pertinent.

Google Glasses are novel to use, but many journalism schools are using the devices merely as new toys in the labs or excuses for ‘research’ which will likely be inconsequential. Journalism professors and instructors should remove their prototypes these spectacles and directly eyeball how consumers will use the devices. The answers to that are key.

New Media Business Course Syllabi

For the past four years, I’ve been teaching a New Media Business for media course at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. It was originally open just to postgraduate students, but a few years ago we opened it to select upperclassmen, too.

Some 250 students have taken the course. Approximately half were from the Newhouse School’s Media Management masters degree program, in which taking the course is a requirement. However the rest of the students have been from the school’s Arts Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, Communications, Graphic Design, Magazine, Newspaper, Photography, Public Diplomacy, Public Relations, and Television/Radio/Film departments. Students and staff from the university’s Whitman School of Business, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, School of Information Studies, University College, and the College of Law also have taken the course. In any semester, between a quarter and a third of the students who take the course are foreign, mainly from China, India, the Middle East, or European Union.

Because New Media technologies, business models, and practices are continually changing, I have to update the course syllabus every semester. Here is the current version, minus university boilerplate:

New Media Business syllabus

ICC625-M001 (55764) & ICC300-M001 (60544)

Spring 2012

Course Goals: Learn the dynamics, economics, and technologies that are reshaping the media industries worldwide during the 21st Century. Learn how these differ from those of 20th Century media. Learn how to adapt to these changing times.

Disclosures: There aren’t sufficient hours in this single course to provide in-depth assessments of all New Media technologies which are constantly evolving.

Moreover, the syllabus you’re reading is subject to change. Each semester a different mix of students from Newhouse departments attends this course. For example, last semester’s course was taken by 18 Media Management, two Broadcast Journalism, one Public Relations, one Advertising, one Newspaper student, and a Whitman staffer. In contrast, this semester’s course currently has five Advertising, one Broadcast Journalism, and one Newspaper student enrolled. So, after the first week of classes each semester, the instructor revises this syllabus to focus on the specific needs of the students in that semester.
Dates, Hours, and Location: Twenty-nine (29) eighty-minute classes will be held between 11:00 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from January 17 to May 1, 2012, in the Larry Kramer War Room (#252 in Newhouse 3, geo-coordinates on request).

Agenda & Topics: The following agenda of class topics is tentative. The actual agenda may vary due to availability of speakers or additional topics added during the semester either by the instructor or the requests of students.

The first four weeks of the course surveys the current state of the world’s media; how that situation cannot be explained by classical Mass Media theory, and examines the new theories which fit that situation.

January 17 – Ritual Reading of the Syllabus. Plus, discussion of class goals and policies. Handout: Student questionnaire.

January 19 – Embracing Change. The elasticity of time. The Confederate widow and the World War One Flying Ace anachronisms. How long do you plan to live? People you’ll meet who will in the the 22nd Century. How to adapt to change, and why knowing how to embrace change and adapt to is the paramount skill for 21st Century media people to have.

January 31 and February 2 – Apocalypse. What challenges do the advertising, newspaper, magazine, radio, television, cinema, public relations, photography industries now face? How the ancient Greek word apokálypsis actually means ‘lifting of the veil’, ‘revelation’, and ‘disclosing something hidden in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception’ and not (contrary to popular belief) ‘chaos’ or ‘end of the world’.

February 2 – Creative Disruption. How an Austrian economist strove to become the greatest economist in the world, the best horseman in his nation, and the greatest lover in all of Vienna. How his work in one of those endeavors helps us understand the situation the media industries face.

February 7 – What Ultimately Are Causing the Media Change? Meet Gordon Moore, Martin Cooper, and Gerald Butters. The interactions of what they observed. Will change stop in your lifetime? The clockwork towards technological singularity.

February 9 – What Has Been the Greatest Change in Media History? Are New Media merely traditional forms of media put online or manifestations of something much larger underway? What has been the greatest change in media to occur in human history?

February 14 – Across the Spectrum of Change. How the greatest change in media history affects the practices and businesses models of journalism, entertainment, and information, and even the content of those fields. Why Social Media are manifestations of this change and the ‘tidal shift’ resulting.

February 16 – The Economics of Content and the Contents of Surplus. Why traditional media business models are failing. How supply & demand specifically affects value and attention and value. Why fewer and fewer people will pay for traditional content, and use it less frequently and less thoroughly—no matter if the content is delivered via traditional forms or online. How content must change. How, where, and when to charge for what content?

The next five weeks provide practical information about how to prosper and adapt to changes in various fields and formats of media during the 21st Century.

February 21 – Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and the Internet Timeline. How you only have to remember two things about the geologic timescale of New Media. How a host of people, almost all of them in their twenties, had the courage of their ideas and have changed the world.

February 23 – How Does Digital Work? What Does Interactive Actually Mean? Do TurboTax® or the Intel Turbo Boost® really use turbochargers? Do the words digital and interactive actually have real meanings? Why knowing these meanings can lead media to success.

February 28 –Alphabet Soup: HTTP, CSS, SEO, SEM, XML, and ROI. How the Worldwide Web works. How to measure and improve your use of the Web and other interactive technologies. And why the refrigerator you buy five years after your graduation will know some good recipe for what it contains.

March 1 – What are Individuated Media? Should You Be Permissive or Intrusive? Will Mass Media continue to be the primary way people obtain news, entertainment, and information or will something else replace it?

March 6 & 8 – The Practices and Effectiveness of Online Advertising. Why something with such relatively small response rates is becoming the world’s primary form of advertising. Practices and problems.

March 14 & 16 – Spring Break Week.

 March 20 – How New Media Differs Legally from Traditional Media. Technology outrunning the law and governments. COPA, CAN-SPAM, Safe Harbors, Personal Jurisdiction, SOPA, and Net Neutrality

March 22 – The Blogosphere. Does anyone actually earn money blogging? Should you or your company blog? What if everyone else is doing it? The revenge of ‘the people formerly known as the audience.’

March 27 – Going Mobile. Will mobile really change the media industries? What are the ‘G’s, Geolocation, Augmented Reality, and Goggling?

March 29 – Tweets, Check-Ins, Virtual Realities, and Loquacious Devices. The incipient deaths of keyboarding and handwriting. Meet the new intermediaries: Dragons, Siris, and HALs.

The final month of course examines the futures of various industries and provides practical information about how to prosper and adapt to changes in various fields and formats of media during the 21st Century.

April 3 – The Revenge of Paper. How tablet devices are just one of many primordial steps to something that replaces paper. A dress of OLED. Everything becomes a display. What will the book in the future do?

April 5 – The Revenge of Radio. How a medium once thought to be dying has become one of the most popular mobile app. Have you seen the radio station’s video? Individuation in radio. How Pandora teach Individuation, not Mass Media.

April 10 – The Future of Television. Brought to you by Ethernet television and a host of pretenders. The coming implosion of the U.S. television affiliate model. Can your local station survive? No borders except language and culture. Rights, Royalties, and Revanchism.

April 12 – The Future of Cinema. Digital projection to the home big screen versus the bigger screen with strangers at the mall? Had 3D gone flat? A holographic shell game: which of the ‘Peas’ is really there?

April 17 – A Tale of Two Parochial Countries. Who are the largest groups of nationals online? Why you should go abroad virtually before seeing all of the 50 United States. How a country that once led the world in interactive is now ranked in the teens. What you can learn from other nation’s New Media.

April 19 –Business Formation, Partners, and Practices. A primer about how to form a business legally and to deal with partners, investors, co-workers, or employees. How new technologies affect ownership.

April 24 & 26 – A Week of Best Practices from Worldwide. Who said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”?

May 1 – Course Summary & Evaluations.

Textbooks: There are no required textbooks for this course. No printed textbook is able to keep current with the changes radical underway in the media industry. Besides, this is a New Media course, so the instructor will assign online readings. The instructor can recommend specific books about New Media which students in those specific majors should read.



Augmented Reality for Printed Publications

We’re generally not a company that emphasizes a continuing role for paper (as opposed to epaper) in the future, but we are enthusiastic about some of the Augmented Reality mobile phone applications being developed by the Dutch company Layar for use with newspapers, magazines, signboards.

For example, take at look at this video about using the application with magazines:

Or this more general use of the application:

These apps led one acquaintance myself of ours to declare that the Cuecat scanners, a product released in 1999, was ahead of its time. Maybe so, but that’s like saying the steam-powered automobiles of the 1880-1890s or Leonardo da Vinci‘s drawing of a rudimentary helicopter in the 1480s were ahead of their time. Those might have been ahead of their times, but were inept implementations. Cuecat spanners were dedicated, single-purpose devices that plugged into people’s personal computers. They could be used to gather more information from printed publications only when wired to personal computers and only by reading bar codes printed in those publications. By contrast, Layar’s Vision applications can be used on any multi-purpose ‘smartphone’ (iPhone, Android, etc.), a device which hundreds of millions of people now carry; doesn’t require wiring to a personal computer; and doesn’t require the publication (or anyone else) to print barcodes or QR codes. It’s an idea and an implementation at it’s time.

As a surfing friend once told me, ‘You can’t surf ahead of the wave’s time.’  Which is why Cuecat went nowhere.