I recently got turned on to Participatory Culture's DTV application via BoingBoing. Hey, I thought, that's pretty cool. I don't think I'll use it all that much, after all, it's just an overglorified RSS aggregator tied in to QuickTime- and I have yet to find an RSS reader that is actually worth the effort.
I'm completely blown away, not by the program itself, which is decent enough software, but not spectacular- but with what the software does. I'm watching two geeky kids in their parent's basement read headlines from the site Diggnation, cracking jokes and taking a world tour of beers while they do it.
A couple of clicks, and I'm watching some crazy college kids doing sketches about badmiton and child molestation. Or, tuning into my new guilty pleasure, "Siren", which has the production values of one of those Sunday afternoon action adventure shows with plot to match- but a quick search on the actors shows that they're at least paying these people.
DTV isn't the only way to get this stuff- but it's surprisingly good at the job. It's nearly as convienent as one of those crazy channel guides you get with Digital Cable.
Okay, now where am I going with this? I don't really know. This is the part where I make some predictions about what this is going to mean, in a practical sense. No idea. I can make some guesses. First off- this is the TV killer in the same way the television meant that people stopped listening to radio, and the radio kept people from reading newspapers. I think there's so many people that hate television for no other reason than because it's fashionably erudite of them to do so. I find there's very little good on television, but I've found only a handful of gems on DTV so far- but gems that were ideally suited to my tastes.
And that's the real key. The more media available to me, the more likely it is I'll find something to my liking. And, as we've learned from Apple, when you hit a niche market, you get very devoted fans. Would I buy "Siren" or "Olde English" merch? Probably not. Would I pay for a DVD release? Probably, assuming I could get it for under $10- but there's another big key. These things are automatically low overhead- what they lack in production values is compensated by niche targetting and general affable charm.
In other words, there's a new, and very dynamic channel that lets anyone get in on the ground floor and run their own TV station, radio station, or newspaper. These things will, slowly, find a place in the greater media amalgam, some will be bought up, and some will probably view vlogs,pods, and blogs (oh my!) as "Farm Teams" of the media world. And some people make a career playing on "Farm Teams", instead of going up to the "Majors". And some people become fans of the local farm team, and would just love to watch them duke it out with the hometown major team, rooting for the farm boys.
I think I'm in that last group.