The Age of Demassification
by Alex Cosper
Thursday, March 31, 2016

You may look at implosions within political parties to be revolutionary. The truth is, this energy has been building since the 1990s. It's part of what author Alvin Toffler called "demassification." He accurately described social changes in the 1960s and early 1970s in his book Future Shock. Demassification is the opposite of the build-up of mass media most of the 20th century. The internet was a huge catalyst in guiding people toward their own media choices instead of traditional media choices.

Transition to a New Era

The industrial age never really ended on a specific date. In fact, the early 21st century is an overlap of the industrial age and the information or technological age. But you can still see clear distinctions between the old world and the nu world. At one time land, labor and capital were needed by business owners. During the age of demassification, which coincides with the technological revolution, tech is moving away from standardization in favor of personalizatin.

Another sign of an ideological change is that knowledge is replacing traditional physical labor. The age of demassification includes a return to the home as a workplace, which was common in the nineteenth century before factories spread from city to city. The internet allows people to be connected to networks to submit work or collaborate with team members. The nu paradigm is more cost-effective and doesn't require office space or the physical hardware of the nineties. The cloud is paving the way for office independence, so that work can be done from any remote location.

Breaking Away from Radio and TV

Last century virtually everyone was dialed into the three major TV networks. Media was based on strict network scheduling, whereas in the new century people have options to scheduled programming. Demassification is an act of self-empowerment among people who want to set their own agendas and not be bound by rigid structure. The rise of YouTube videos has blurred all the old rules about time limits and segmentation for media presentation. No longer does video have to be planned around commercial interruptions.

It's easy to just give up on terrestrial radio, especially if you want unbiased news or interesting music formats. Unfortunately, in many markets the radio dial is hogged by a few companies that want to control the majority of choices in a market. This lack of diversity has contributed to the audience finding alternative choices. Many people find corporate radio to be very dull and doesn't serve their local market. The drifting away from a once magnificent medium has a lot to do with the fact that the last and most thorough content for any radio format can be found online.

A Wave of Platforms

Artistic vision is no longer reserved for big companies. Almost all businesses now realize that creativity plays a role in commerce, from the company logo to the way brand development is conducted. While last century artists were in command of the direction of pop culture, this century is more about platform developers.

Many times the key to an interactive business website is the choice of web applications. It's interesting that last century platform developers were fairly invisible to the public compared with artists. This century has thousands more unknown artists, but a handful of well-known platform developers such as Google, YouTube, Apple and Facebook.

As more people become comfortable with technology platforms providing alternative media consumption or tools that allow you to release your own art, demassification will lead to the breakdown of big media. While it likely won't be destroyed, big media will shrink while small media will grow.

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