Project Timeline 2005–2010

Skip to content

Andy Lloyd James’ notes on The Matrix

Categories: Conversation, General, The Matrix
Date: 9 July 2008

The Matrix / Quadrants

Like Ross I found it an absorbing process to try and synthesise a mass of information into such a tiny space. It looks very spartan and I have not yet tried to rank it (bar the first point below). The left side (less important) is almost bare because I am still working my way through the right hand side. I have focused as hard as I can on the future of this business of Television…what it is now and how it may evolve. I make only one assumption and that is that it will evolve. Mass audiences are too valuable for the “power interests” to allow them to be lost.

The Bottom Right Vector

The most complex and uncertain influences. The first is the only one properly ranked: the loss of centre. Eighty years or so, single-source electronic media have formed the meeting place of this country. First Radio and for the last fifty years Television. The unwinding of this powerful social knot at the centre of our lives will unleash forces which will act upon each other in unpredictable ways. Our whole broadcasting system has been built with assumptions about the need for Public Service right at their heart: for commercials and public broadcasters. So the issues of democratic process, independent journalism, public broadcasting purpose, access and equity will all be unravelled from each other and will form new helixes.

So it’s the fact of that unravelling from a central position which will be the most important influence on the Television of 2018. It can’t happen smoothly, it will only be partially controllable: it really is life at the frontier writ large and small at its best benefiting from opportunism and creativity rather than degeneration and finality. But the latter two are sharply in the frame.

The next two headings (OzContent and then Access to rights) are key foci for Television as a business as they are for the whole question of Regulation. Whatever world exists there will be significant imperatives for high quality high cost production and distribution: the games industry is a splendid example of it. How will Australia play in this field and how will it offer maximal creative opportunities to future generations?

Acquiring rights to content and then distributing them is the core of the business. Advertising futures clearly set with this as is the whole future of Public Service Broadcasting.

Open/closed networks is self explanatory and relates as much to the current model as it does to non-broadcast models.

Ownership may be misplaced here and may be better above. It’s here at the moment because the massive jostling for ownership of real media power (which is what we’ll see whether or not it emphasises broadcast) may throw up some very ugly models. I put Berlusconi’s name there as a specific reminder of how one person can cause the unravelling I started out with. A slightly altered Murdoch could have precisely the same effect.
I’ve placed some wildcards here as well: economy obviously because it will determine the speed of change. Environment for so many reasons to do with technology, power-use, disposal, heat and of course the cost of fuel which may do more to drive virtual communications than any other single issue. Technical vulnerability refers to the potential for global failures/terrorism but is not intended (as none of them are) to be solely negative.

The Upper Right Vector

This contains issues which may not be much more certain but can be seen to have clear probabilities. Audience/Consumer activity is there because we simply know that it will grow and grow. Same things with consumer generation, personalisation, coded content, piracy are the same. But they still need a mass of exploration and understanding from us. IPYV and VOD will come, Public Debate may not but, if not, the effects of its absence will be predictable. Cognitive change appears already to be having an impact.

In a more detailed sense, we can’t forget the structural issues such as the shape of content production and delivery organisations.

I won’t even remark on the left-hand side at this stage.