Production and Consumption

Steel Beach was one of my favorite novels for awhile.  The basic plot revolved around an entertainment reporter who specialized in scandal and juicy stories.  People read them on “pads” that were more or less tablet computing as we know it.  One subscribed to a dedicated service — both the service and the device were referred to as pads.

It’s kinda cool that he noodled about how electronic publishing might pan out.  But I find it interesting that he still postulated it as a one-way street.  The professionals hired to do it produced, the public consumed.

Back in the dark ages of the 1990s, few people only consumed material online.  Most people did a fair amount of producing as well, be it a My Pet Goldfish webpage (and a single page it was!), or participating in discussion groups.  Even with the explosion of online media and millions more people participating social media does encourage discussion, at least.  While the percentage of people producing actual content is getting lower, it’s still pretty impressive.

However, with tablet computing being pushed, I do wonder if we’re going to fall back to a mostly-consumption mentality.  I hope not.  Some writers and thinkers seem to think that the archetecture of participation will endure, but I have to wonder how much so, especially with devices that make production more and more difficult.

I’m curious what other people think.

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