Goliath vs countless Davids

14 02 2007

i’m suddenly struck by the parallels between “old media” vs “new media”, and the fossil fuel vs the renewable energy industries.

“old media” (large monolithic tv/radio/newspaper organisations) are feeling the threat of “new media” – smaller (sometimes tiny) nimble online sites serving news & insightful commentary & entertainment, from various styles of social-networking sites (in words, pictures & video) to millions of networked blogs & podcasts.

new media‘ and ‘Web 2.0′ are a democratisation of media at a time when old/big media amalgamated ownership elicits even greater conern about diversity & vested interest. it’s an enabler for anyone sufficiently motivated to reach to a hitherto inaccessible public audience (and talented enough to keep them!). this is a time of transition & experimentation, and the end-point – if there will ever be such a plateau again – is unknown, and certainly old media will reinvent itself (it already is) to adapt to our rapidly evolving preferences for how, when, & where we ‘consume’ media. i suspect the already slightly fading line between old media and new media will disolve into a continuum that offers the best of both worlds more seamlessly than it does now.

the fossil-fuel industry – despite being fundamentally entrenched in almost every facet of modern life & will fight like hell to stay there – is facing the question of its fundamental long-term viability (global warming) & sustainability (Peak Oil). we & they know it’s just a matter of time. in the orther corner, we have the renewable energy industry, who, rather than waiting for the hard ground to meet our fall, are slowly but surely proving – most on a small scale – their viability as substitutes for fossil-fuel sources.

in particular, renewable energy’s ubiquitous, small-scale, distributed nature flies in the face of the few large monolithic power stations, distributors & retailers. it promises to give consumers greater choice, and less reliance on a few god-like utilities, for some even complete independence from ‘the grid’ or even the ability to feed their excess back into the grid.

renewable energy represents a much finer-grained redistribution & democratisation of the energy industry, from selection of type (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, etc) according to the natural capacity of the local environment, to choices of source – from an installation small enough to fit in your own back yard or roof, through facilities powering a neighbourhood or town, right up to massive systems rivalling fossil fuel output.

and you can bet the thought of this has the fossil fuel industy’s knickers in a huge twist!

Happy Valentine’s Day fossil fuel industry. but i just don’t love you any more! please don’t be offended, it’s not you, it’s me…

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