The Campaign Spot

The Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am and ‘Baton-able’ Media

Raise your hand if you thought the most interesting comment at the Huffington Post’s event today, “Game Change: How the New Media Are Impacting the ‘08 Race” would come from will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas.

(They had all kinds of problems with the microphones and sound system, but I’m pretty sure moderator Charlie Rose introduced him as a member of the “Black Peas.”)
Anyway, will.i.am (that’s how he spells it, it’s like e.e. cummings with a stutter) noted that he, creator of two widely-distributed music videos, is in the business of “baton-able” media. He said that in the past, viewers would consume a mass media like television and then repeat what they liked to their friends and family. But in the process of repeating, inevitably something would get lost, details would change, etc. “Baton-able” media, like a relay team’s baton, is passed in its entirety from individual to individual, and as the musician put it, “nothing gets lost in translation. When someone shows someone else my song, nothing will go awry, because it’s exactly the way I put it.”
And there’s something to this. A decade ago,if you saw something on the evening news, you had to be recording it in order to show it to anyone else. If you saw an interesting newspaper or magazine article, you would have to clip it and save it. Today, you just copy the url and forward it on to others via e-mail. Most likely you just described it to others, and they got the article or report through your filter.
He didn’t get into it, but I think the clearest example of this in the political realm in recent years is political ads. Think about how many people watched the Swift Boat Vets for Truth ads online, as opposed to on television. Think about how many ads now debut online, and the percentage of viewers who see it in YouTube form instead of during commercial breaks.

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