There's an old adage in the new media world: "Information wants to be free." And it does. But the freedom it seeks is no longer a question of cost; it's a question of format. We're living now in an era of cage-free content, where all media (whether text-, audio- or video-based) is distributed and consumed across a wide range of channels, from which individuals pick and choose.
Yet media producers still have a terrible habit of caging their work within the medium they happen to understand. Why should the contents of a book be stuck on its pages? Why would a TV program exist only when broadcast? Why waste the hard work of 100 reporters by recycling their words each day or week or month? These are outdated questions. If you've spent any time thinking about media in the last 15 years, they're downright boring. And yet they're still shockingly relevant. Even the newest of new media companies are stuck in old ways. Blogs, those harbingers of media's next generation, aren't even distributed through EMAIL for heaven's sake. Not a single production company is making films or videos for the half-billion people who sit bored at their desk in front of a computer every day.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, as I developed TEDTalks, the podcast series we launch this week, which takes the most caged content imaginable — the lecture — and evolves it from something exclusive and ephemeral (reaching only the people gathered in a room) to something archivable, portable, and broadly accessible. Something long-lasting and far-reaching... Something more powerful than I am currently able to imagine, frankly: Content freed from its cage.