FuturetainmentBy Mike Walsh

“Massed produced media must give way for media produced by the masses.” page 34.

In his insightful new book, digital futurist Mike Walsh observes that until recently media content originated from professionals, was marketed by experts and distributed through authorised channels. Contemporary consumers, however, are empowered to watch, listen and read what they want courtesy of the networks to which they belong.

The decline of traditional top-down models of media distribution has far-reaching consequences for businesses and consumers alike and these are explored here.  Walsh coins the phrase ‘audience networks’, where content is discovered, shared and made popular by members. He therefore argues that Twitter, Facebook and other networks represent considerably more than social pastimes.

Walsh is well-qualified to comment. As a leading authority and speaker on the digital future, the strength of the book lies in his ability to analyse the complex landscape of connectedness and define the resultant issues and trends.  A range of topics, including content authenticity, brand development (“the future of advertising is entertainment”), payment models, avatars and gaming are discussed. Significantly, when assessing the impact of current and future technology, Walsh finds human behaviour to be of greater importance than what new technologies might enable us to do.

Art director Vince Frost’s original photographs and high-impact graphs complement the text and serve to make this complex subject more accessible.  It is a self-described “rethink of the business book” and as much a work of art as a business tool.

Businesses wanting to make sense of where the future of digital technology, media and marketing might lie, would find this especially informative. The Futuretainment website is the perfect compliment to the book.

Reviewed by Louise Grace-Pickering, May 2010