Interactive in the First Person

We flew high over the Hoover Dam upon our decent into Las Vegas for the Editors and Publishers 21st Interactive Media Conference.

I had recently downloaded the series “America. This is Us” to my iPad and watched the episode where the Colorado River is captured and the massive capital works project to build the dam heralded change, not only for the cities of Southern California, but for the East too.

By complete coincidence, the airline magazine had a great article promoting a new book:  Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century by Michael Hiltzik

The irony stayed with me.  Here I am at around 15,000 feet reading an airline print magazine about a new book about the dam written by an LA Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and I had downloaded the HD TV episode to my conversation magnet (the iPad) and I was heading to a convention about all things changing in media.  Not to mention this event was in a destination city where apparently “forever” only lasts about three weeks with an underground slogan: “What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube.”  Now that’s interactive in the first person!

As I multi-tasked on the airline dinner tray, reading and watching my print and digital content, I learned the Hoover Dam project was seen as a symbol and provided President Franklin D. Roosevelt the opportunity to articulate a vision of the future; that a bounty of electricity would bring agriculture, mining and manufacturing plus unforeseen industries for the folks of the day but also future generations.

It got me thinking, what would be today’s equivalent of the Hoover Dam?

The Hoover Dam was the end result of the vision and foresight of what abundant electricity could do for a nation.  Imagine the meetings that took place when the concept of the dam was just a “what if” and the best and the brightest came together to stop talking about it and to “get real.”

The Editors and Publishers Interactive convention, like the week before at Folio 2010 and Internet Week NY, in their different industry ways, provided a tremendous forum to share a vision for the future of interactive media and also to get “real.”

For all of us who make a living in media and advertising, we listened and talked about how to change, what to change and what others are experiencing.  We learned about the latest technology innovations, discussed how to adapt or think about new labor skills and focused on publishers’ new products and services.  Most topical were the streams of opinions on just how to make money—collaborating, interacting and sharing as much as possible to build a vision of what can be.  The truth is we are still working it out and that is totally okay.

Each representative organization’s “Hoover Dam” is a work-in-progress with a few prototypes developed along the way (I’m assuming the dam’s engineers also dug a few holes in the desert and poured a few slabs of concrete somewhere before the official day one dig-out).

But what we do know, as Eric Moore, from Razorfish clearly stated, “The genie isn’t going back into the bottle.”

If your world is majority print, adapt to digital.  Now!

It seemed that digital revenues still hover around the 10%-15% compared to print.  So we still have a lot of dam to build.

Mr Moore also said “The iPad isn’t the answer.” (It’s not the dam.)

I think one of the iPad’s greatest contributions will be its migration of print natives to the digital side shoring up a global digital user base, perhaps way faster than first thought, given the amazing iPad penetration.  We will all want to leverage that base.  It’s like Boulder City starting out for the workers of the dam. A new community develops and so do their needs and wants.

I’ve learned so far that we still believe

  • Content is king
  • People will pay for quality
  • People will pay for convenience
  • People will pay for the unique
  • You must build and innovate
  • You must test and iterate
  • Not all pay-walls are equal

I flew over the Hoover Dam for free and this month, as I’m hooked on the history, I will either  buy a ticket for $7.00 and drive my car, or pay $90 for a jeep tour, or spend $134 for a bus tour.  See, we’ve had different pay-walls all along for many things. (Interesting post about pay-walls for content here.)

Now think of your favorite website or magazine.  Would you pay for a different digital experience?  Why would you pay?  What experience would make you hand over your hard-earned money?

Tell me about your Hoover Dam!

One Response to Interactive in the First Person

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