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How Media Is Changing (Part One)

Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago. Then came photography, the telephone, film and the phonograph in the 19th century, later television and the World Wide Web. A vast interval of time spanning over 500 years -- leading to the media reality as we know it today.
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Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago. Then came photography, the telephone, film and the phonograph in the 19th century, later television and the World Wide Web. A vast interval of time spanning over 500 years -- leading to the media reality as we know it today.

The publisher Hubert Burda recognized the potential of the digital revolution early on. For the last few decades he has occupied himself with understanding this topic.

This shows in his latest book "Diary on the Digital Revolution," which is a compilation of personal notes, presentations, conferences and encounters from the last 25 years.


January 1996 // The effects of the digital revolution

I think that over the next several years, the effects of the digital revolution will change how we produce and sell newspapers, and how we work, learn, enjoy entertainment, plan travel, organize our health care systems, and do our banking.

The communication highway can be broken down into three areas: networks, software, content providers.

That is exactly what our company will be: It is where we have expertise and a head start. A communication highway without content is inconceivable.

June 1996 // Self-publishing

Joining the traditional media of television, radio, newspapers and magazines is a new element: interactivity. Now anyone can transmit information -- globally.

January 1997 // New roles for publishing companies

The publishing companies' new role will shift increasingly toward being community organizers. "Every audience has its own device." In other words, I have to carefully consider which medium I want to use to approach these communities.

I think that the Internet and print behave in a complementary manner. Print topics can be tailored to individual users, while I can get the latest web addresses and surfing tips from the online (print) magazines.

May 1998 // Magazines and the Internet

Digitization strengthens the central role of magazines as a journalistically organizing force within a world of unlimited data streams. At the same time, it creates a brand new worldwide market: the Internet.

February 2000 // Conquering the world as a picture

I asked the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, "What did Martin Heidegger mean by 'the essence of the new age is the conquest of the world as a picture'?" Sloterdijk pondered for a while, and then answered, "Maybe he meant something like the Internet. Because that's a real act of global conquest."

May 2000 // Mobile Revolution

Mobile business will be the future and electronic devices will become wearables.

November 2000 // Mobile business

The Internet and mobile phones are key. They are changing how people communicate and also how they shop -- which is of particular interest to us at this point. Just watch how the Internet and mobile communications are going to evolve in the next few years.

The mobile business in particular is something we must take seriously. I see tremendous prospects for all those transactions that can be handled on mobile phones.

In this context, we can expect that voice-recognition systems will make it easier for users to get oriented.

Soon they will also be able to look up travel destinations on their mobile phones.

November 2003 // Suspense and interaction -- Democratizing auctions

Self-staging and media coverage now have another factor added in: suspense in the form of excitement and interaction. The digital revolution, the Internet, and mobile phones come into play here. These media develop a new category of attention-getting content that engages and involves individuals to a much greater extent than previous mass media (broadcasting). This becomes clear with eBay, for example. Who could have imagined that auctions -- once an exclusive transaction-based, high society-oriented realm -- would result in one of the biggest changes within the economy? eBay democratized auctions and changed the entire flow of goods. In fact, more than 10 million Germans have already participated in an eBay auction.

November 2004 // Opportunities in digitization

Everything has gotten less expensive. Digitization has made content, whether it's print or music, less costly. Today, anyone can read the news for free online. However, the circulation of Spiegel, Focus, and Stern remain stable overall. Magazines and newspapers are part of our society. Furthermore, I'm convinced that a new generation of magazines comes out every 10 years. Many segments present a whole range of opportunities to introduce new publications to the market. Foreign markets are exciting. Content digitization enables magazines to be exported more profitably. A proper overall strategy includes expansion.

April 2005 // The media -- an extension of our bodies

Marshall McLuhan calls the media "extensions of our bodily organs and our nervous system" to increase power and speed. As humans and social beings, we use devices for writing and sending messages, news, and reports: first it was paper, a quill, and ink, followed by printing technology, photography, phonography, telephones, radios, televisions, and the internet.

This post is excerpted from Hubert Burda's book, "Diary on the Digital Revolution: Notes from 1990-2015."

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