Image source: darmano.typepad.com
For more than a decade the global mass-media and communications markets have been going through the allegedly contradictory process of convergence and fragmentation at the same time. I remember this interesting phenomena drawn my attention during my journalism studies around 2002. I also remember how hard it was for many of my fellow students to understand this idea: How can a market converge and fragmented at the same time? Well, it can, and that is what it does.
From Google and Microsoft to Time Warner and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp - huge mega-billions media conglomerates are taking over "small" companies for hundreds of millions of Dollar almost every day and by that reducing variety and competition. At the same time those very same companies are splitting their media channels into smaller and smaller fragments, dedicated to niche markets no one thought could ever get their own media sphere and visibility.
Fragmentation within the fragmentation
Fueled by the power of social / citizen media and the Internet power to provide direct media channels at very low cost, this process goes hand by hand with another phenomena generally referred to as Glocalization, where as described by Danah Boyd from the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society: "global influence is altered by local culture and re-inserted into the global in a constant cycle". This game has been going on for years but recently it seems like the rules are changing once again, at least partially and in some aspects.
Check out this enlightening article by David Armano from Logic+Emotion for example, suggesting we might be witnessing a refragmentation process, or in his words "fragmentation within the fragmentation":
...within the realm of social media, you've got an increasing number of places where your content can be digested - if old media was about one big "push" then old social media was also about a similar "push", while the newer social media landscape involves content, community and conversation happening at multiple venues, times and with a varied degree of reach... social media has accelerated so quickly that we need to look at the bigger picture. That bigger picture involves multiple platforms and methods to distribute content.Other than another one of his fantastic charts (seen above) presenting the process in his usual eye catching graphic style I took myself the three following notes from Armano's article and would like to quote them here and share them with you:
- Avoid the temptation to hyper fixate on one venue thinking it's a replacement for another.
- Don't ignore effective networks just because and even if they create "smaller" ripples
- Like the original media fragmentation, the social version of it will be no less challenging to initiate, maintain and nurture