Skate Where The Puck Is Heading
Some thoughts about where we're going
My wonderful stepdad David dropped dead of a heart attack in an elevator at the courthouse where he worked as a public defender three years ago. When I got to the house, I stood in his closet, and I had the overwhelming feeling that he shouldn’t have saved his good stuff.
He left for work the day before, saving his good suits for later, saving ties he liked, saving for retirement, and then he died a few hours later. It was all just, wasted, gone, everything he had ever saved. Everything that had ever belonged to him. Expired.
My mom and stepdad were deeply connected since they met when I was six years old. My mom died of grief just two years after he died. They were both in their 60’s.
One of the feelings I’ve had since my loving, nurturing, hugely-laughing mother died is like I’m an alien who just got dropped here on Earth. A soldier who was dropped in by parachute on foreign soil. No ties. No rescue. No rules.
A joke I kept repeating to myself in my head those awful first weeks and months was “literally anything can happen now. And — literally anything can happen now!”
Meaning — yes, the worst thing you can imagine can and does and did happen. But also — that means there are no rules now. Whatever tether or constraints you grew up feeling — “I can’t do that because …” — those are gone now. I owe nothing to no one. My dad was mostly gone during my childhood (though we’ve become close since my mom and stepdad died, and I appreciate that he’s stepped in so much, because without him I would be truly alone in the world).
I’ve been wanting to do something like this experiment for a long time. A place where I could write hand-in-hand with the audience, like a club. Where the audience is involved all along. I even spun up something on my own server a few years ago, and it was functional. But I realized that I would rather spend my time writing than maintaining a server and googling how to fix my janky code, so I abandoned it.
But I have this deep intuition that the future of entertainment will be embedded with its audience.
As a screenwriter who writes about technology, it’s my job to predict the future, to always know what’s coming next. And I have this deep conviction that the future of entertainment is not silo’ed the way it was in the twentieth century, where the audience passively received entertainment from their distributor overlords. In the future, the audience will be actively involved.
The internet will mediate every aspect of our entertainment over the next decades. Right now the streamers are basically “dumb pipes” — app versions of TV networks that we all half-watch while staring at our phones and laptops. But what if streamers became a combination of what we already do — an intimate channel that we both watch and read and post to, a place where we are known? What if every story you liked was purposefully intimate, a place where you not only consumed but also contributed, where you came back week to week to continue the story but also because you felt known there? What if the mirror were two-way?
The pipes will be smart and they’ll be a group you like and feel like you belong in.
Metcalfe’s Law is a principle that says when it comes to networks, users equal value. Users, or readers, or contributors (in this model) are exponentially more valuable, in this model, than they are half-watching while staring at their phones. We want you here. We need you here.
I don’t expect this to happen all at once. But I think we’ll see changes happening subtly, and then all at once it will feel like a revolution has happened all around us in terms of the way we consume entertainment. I believe storytelling — the deep need to feel something and be entertained — will always feel like oxygen or water to us.
Do you agree? Do you think I’m way off here? Comment and let’s discuss!
A book you may enjoy:
I am extremely neurodivergent which makes me a slow reader. I read almost exclusively by listening to audiobooks. I even listen to articles with the Pocket app, which allows you to save your articles to the app and uses computer generated voices to read them to you. I was in the top 1% of Pocket’s users last year lol. Even when I’ve adapted books to the screen, I’ve found ways to listen to them. I didn’t know I was ahead of the curve in accommodating my own needs without saying anything to anyone! So always assume when I say I read something, I mean I listened to it.
Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead A literary murder mystery by Nobel Prize in literature winner Olga Tokarczuk. Even though I read everything via audiobook, I particularly recommend this production narrated by Beata Pozniak in a tallowy Central European accent. It’s a philosophical dirge disguised as a whodonit, set in a wintry nether-world on the Czech-Polish border. I listened to it while skiing on ice and found the narrator — an eccentric recluse who investigates a murder mystery even though everyone dismisses her — extremely relatable!
In the spirit of this theory, I gotta' reply! And definitely, I agree, but I think possibly for a more cynical reason. In broadcast syndication and re-packaging iz a big deal for the longevity of any property. Eventually this corroded even content creators on the internet in the form of compilation re-uploads, and viral-react videos.
Now there's less guessing involved on the part of the money-movers because the Algorithmz Abound. Smart Pipes of user engagement may be like those buttons on crosswalks. We press the button, unclear of whether it conjures the walking man quicker or not. If storytelling reaches a point of interaction, I see it interacting with our algorithm perhaps through the guise of us 'curating our experience.' Because you liked ROMANCE THRILLER we'll generate another for you, with the AWKWARD FAMILY TROPES you liked before. Did FATAL PLOT TWIST appeal to you or would you like a HAPPY ENDING this time around?