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Tag: digital media

Gabe Newell on the future of content

I mentioned Gabe Newell’s keynote in an earlier post today but now think it deserves a full post of its own. If you have any interest in the future trajectory of digital media in general, and gaming in particular, this keynote is simply required viewing. It’s full of fascinating off-the-cuff insights about where content platforms are heading that you should just watch it in its entirety. Here’s a few paraphrased choice bits:

The PC ecosystem is expanding and will continue to do so – because it’s open. Open hardware + open software development beats everything else, and particularly the console model.

Linux is a get out of jail free card for the industry [he talks about the gaming industry but I think it equally applies to everyone with a finger in digital media content distribution]. Why? Because it ensures content platform independence.

With virtual goods you have to think what scarcity actually means, and in the process re-imagine what is a game, and what is digital service.

Free to play should be, and will be, the standard for digital content [at least it seams Valve is betting on that big time]. The idea is that users enter the world on their own terms and the developer leverages in-world interactions.

Cloud games are a losing proposition because functionality is centered rather than distributed. How do you distribute functionality around a network? You want to push intelligence towards the ends of the network, not in the middle. Putting functionality in the center of the network is latency inefficient. [This is fascinating and seems to go directly against the trajectory of app stores and the like]

The big value is in open auction houses, free to play worlds, and user generated content.  Why? Because ‘customers will always defeat us at generating cool content’.

The future Valve is betting on is one where user generated content means customer-made and operated stores, auction houses, mods, games, quests.  [In Valve’s future you should be able to generate your own unique quests and sell them to other players, create your own currency, manage your own auction houses and run your own stores – all in the world]

The goal is to avoid curation and focus instead on aggregation. ‘Curation is pre-internet’.

Finally, Valve is working on prediction markets – they call them information discovery mechanisms, and apparently this is where Gabe Newell is personally involved. [This is such a cool implementation of the price discovery concept from Austrian economics].

Disruptive Media

This is a Prezi from a guest lecture on Disruptive Media I gave last week. The argument is organized around four concept provocations – artificial scarcity, big data, iFeudals, and hive-mind. Each provocation in turn is centered around a digital artifact, where my artifact zero is raw footage from the war in Syria, featuring a tank column dash-cam and a blurry recording from a rebel group attacking the same tank column. I then disassemble this artifact into the four conceptual threads structuring the provocations – the deluge of raw data, the absence/irrelevance of gatekeepers, the inability of content farms [legacy media] to deal with raw data, the power of the hivemind [reddit/4chan] to aggregate and process raw data. These being provocations I don’t provide any summary or an encapsulating framework; instead my coda is a quote from Gabe Newell that really resonated with me. It is from his keynote at the D.I.C.E. summit this year in which he charted a future for gaming built around open auction houses, free-to-play, and user generated content [watch it here], but it equally applies to the scenarios I describe: ‘We can’t compete with our own customers. Our customers have defeated us, not by a little, but by a lot [and that’s a good thing].’