A presentation by Greg Clayman of MTV Networks on his company's mobile platforms strategy at a conference last week revealed two things: I've officially become a genuine adult (tragically unhip and criminally out of step with youth culture), and our civilization is damned.
For you fellow old-timers out there, let me bring you up to speed: MTV offers video content in the form of three- to four-minute snippets of music videos, stand-up comedy routines and television series that you can download and watch on your cell phone (yes, on that tiny LCD that you need your glasses to read numbers on).
And MTV is not alone. A slew of media outlets, including ESPN, Disney and even the Weather Channel, offer video content for your phone.
I've got no problem with what these media outlets are doing. They are experimenting with innovative new business models. They are generating revenue, harnessing and driving emerging technology, playing to convergence and leveraging portability. All good things.
What troubles me is that there appears to be a substantial market for the content that's offered. There is something unsettling about the idea that we need to be entertained all the time, and that this need is well-served by watching mindless fragments of video content on a tiny display we keep in our pockets.
Thanks to this emerging trend, we can now pass those idle few minutes while we ride in the elevator or wait for the bus watching a clip of a young man attempting a martial arts maneuver and falling comically on his head, or of a circa-1985 Mr. T clad in camouflage shorts singing a "song" about his mother. (Clayman showed both clips. They were funny, but that's beside the point.)
How about this instead: We could strike up a conversation, look at a newspaper, read a book, or just spend some time in contemplative thought. I know those options seem pedestrian and dated by comparison, but I would argue that they have more value. Or maybe that's just the way we old folks think.