First rule of first principle thinking, do not use first principle thinking when a mental model is available

Category: Attention

Is India ready for Media 2.0 ?

          I had been chewing this thought for a few weeks now in my head, there is so much discussion about the rise of the new media all over the developed parts of the world but is this new baby been given birth to in India.

          A question that is been nagging me since long is that are these talked abou changes relevant to India. I have been trying to find data or pointers which could be supporting evidence to this.  By the way what do people mean when they say 2.0 ?  How much of any of web 2.0 , media 2.0, publishing 2.0 etc is applicable to India.? Before I delve into India and Media 2.0 let me explain a little about what is meant by media 2.0. 

Loosely this term refers to an economic change (I like the word inflection :)) affecting how media is being produced & consumed. These is brought out by changes in technology of how people produce and consume media and also how preferences of consumers are changed.

           Let me explain a little bit further there was not a time too far ago when our only way of consuming media was through channels which were TV/Radio/Theatres etc. In this world the most powerful person in the media value chain was the one who controlled the distribution as that was the most expensive (exhorbitant license fees, huge setup costs etc) asset. It turned out that in such a dynamics that those who market the best could get the best returns. So in this world there was clamour for amassing the best marketing armor.  Also in this dynamic it became evident that irrespective of how good media content is produced, if you had big marketing muscle power you could get away with highest returns. Also producing good media  was naturally expensive and risky ( there are so many big production budgets which have bombed). This more or less explains why some of the current big media players are so big  what triggers the reasons for the M&A happening in this space.

      What is happening  now is due to change in technologies distribution & production dynamics are changing in a big way.  Players in the market who find that they are better off doing more marketing than making better films they do not have incentive to do good production. This leaves a bad taste with the consumers on this and drives them away from the mass media (shift in consumer preferences)

       What this causes is a drop in the equilibirium price of media industry because of the change in supply & demand. ( To be a little bit more technical  , supply & demand curve are both pushed outwards leading to drop in equilibirium price).  Now this is happening in the developed world and there is a lot of data supporting the above arguments. What I am trying to do is to gather data for India on which I could do this analysis. (Does anyone have any pointer, it would greatly appreciatd). I saw this but it was of not much help

     On the contrary what I find is that there is data supporting that the Indian media industry is still deep rooted in Media 1.0 world. Not single media company has got even a  whiff of media 2.0. Still the most of these companies are buying TV , Billboard media space, rights from Barbie/Chitrakatha/Dhoni blah blah and are happily singing the ‘content is the king’ tune.

      Thus while Murdoch buys Myspace and BBC opens up its content for people to do anything that they want mauj buys righs from sachin ( & interestingly sequoia funds it too ).   This is what has been puzzling me for a while now, are these changes(economic) to happen slowly to India or is it that it is already hit us with its force and it is that we (industry) are not reacting/adapting to the changes. 

       In all this what I find very hard to believe is that no one seems to be even remotely talking about it (even in the blogosphere -? ).  Even does not impress me here, which I think is a fairly good Indian media 2.0 example.

        In the rest of the world there is fair share of visionaries, smart bunch of people who recognize this changes and pushing the boundary of think in the 2.0 space notably Stowe boyd, John Hagel, Clay Shirky, Scott Karp, Umair Haque, Jeff Jarvis.  Where are the Indian counterparts ?

Openness and Attention Economy

Goldhaber’s article on “attention economy” when I read a few years ago was an absolute aha moment for me. It was a seminal article which attempted to articulate in a nice manner the nature governing our lives after the advent of the net. The keypoint put forward was that with the net becoming an important part of our lives we are moving from a “money based” economy to “attention based economy”. Attention here refers to the individual choice made by person to decide what he will do with his time. It is important because it is scarce or rather it is becoming more & more scarce in a relative sense. Check out the article here for more details.


He has published yet another brilliant article in June edition of firstmonday. In it he essentially outlines the value of openness in building attention.


Most of the conversation/discussion(economic/strategic) today on attention and its economics revolve around the utility/preference curve for attention, rarely does anyone question the why behind the utility/preference curve. Goldhaber attempts to give a definition to attention and illustrates what attention paying means and how scarcity of attention occurs. He also argues that attention is an insatiable urge Then he moves on to define various degrees of openness and does an analysis with examples of open source and open access journal stem to show the various type of attention seeking needs that are sought with these open measures.

Some of the salient points of the article include


· Motivation for all openness is rooted at attention scarcity.

· We are now living in world which are raging a “war for attention” whereas once we used to live a wold raging a “war for productive territory”

· Paying attention could be modeled as neuron mirroring. Neuron mirroring refers to excitation of mirror neuron and mirror neuron is a neuron in the brain which fires both when someone performs an action and also when observes the same action performed by another same biological species. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of another animal, as though the observer were himself performing the action. With that in mind attention scarcity could be explained very well because if paying attention involves activating the precursors of muscular motion, we also cannot pay attention to two dissimilar motions at once, if they would use any of the same muscles/neurons


· Attention is an insatiable urge , to some degree an audience full of people paying attention to you will want whatever it is you want. It is perhaps the closest humans can come to life after death, as well as to an expanded life while still living.

· Attention that is desirable comes from other beings who are themselves capable of receiving attention, that is they have minds and are social beings; in practice this means we want attention from other humans.

· Attention wealth is in the minds of the beholders

· Maximizing attention means removing the price barrier, so within the fast–developing world of open access, money has become peripheral.

· Money tracks attention. There seems to exist a causal relation between attention and money and by & large money would be of no significance over a period of time

· The role of various instituations would change in this new economy as most of these institutions(firms, universities etc) have their relevance defined in terms of their exsistence with relation to money.

In the not too distant future there would be a world where openness is a norm and not a thing to be scorned off.

Rajesh Jain

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