I'm trying to map out the evolution of the media. I started with its history, as seen in the picture below:

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From here I'm trying to think of a few logical projections for hundreds or even thousands of years into the future. First I will concede that the images are of different outlets and formats and might not be directly comparable, but they illustrate the overall trend of media very well. The trend being that it's not substance that draws in the readers, it's the emotion. Media in the modern day is putting catchy headlines and trying hard to invoke an emotional response, at least comparatively, with respect to its historical precedent.

In what ways might we see this trend continue in the coming centuries? Will there be nano-bots actually making us feel things by interacting with our brains? Or depending if you are utopian or distopian, maybe emotion will be viewed as a weakness and be bred out of humans, then we only use media for raw facts?

My thoughts aside, I would invite the broader discussion on both the technological as well as sociological levels.

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    $\begingroup$ Any prediction for thousands if years is pure guesswork and subjective. $\endgroup$
    – Mormacil
    Mar 26, 2017 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ My first thought begins with Google Earth + street-view, except linked to millions of live webcams. Add a graphic map of changing pop-up thumbtacks with "click-bait" comments, display it all holographically w/surround-sound... You could "be there" as protesters clashed w/police in Moscow and jump to a concert in Los Angeles, just by spinning the globe and zooming in. $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2017 at 1:13

3 Answers 3


Sociologically, I'd almost expect the next picture in your sequence to be a screenshot of Breitbart and/or Drudge Report, followed by a picture of Reddit/Facebook. Even in the last couple of years, "media" has evolved from emotion-tweaking cover pages to bare-minimum clickbait titles for aggregation and social media consumption.

Technologically, I'd love for the next picture in the sequence to be a Harry Potteresque "animated newspaper." I've often wondered why we don't have more dynamic "print" now that print is usually consumed on computational devices.

Realistically, the next image, I think, would be a screenshot of a web page with an inflammatory headline, a "Share" link, a micro-summary of the content (which may or may not be accurate, but is designed to back up the emotional content of the headline), and an embedded video, which takes "burying the lede" to it's technological conclusion: to get past clickbait and advertisements, you need to watch a multi-minute video, where the actual useful content is as the end, voiced overtop of more emotionally charged video.

One thing that has not changed, however, is the self-selection of media. There's so many people whining and crying about how social media has encouraged bubble-building, with everyone in their own personal safe spaces, but this has been a feature of human life from the beginning. You'd get your news from your preferred priest, or social group in the ancient past; you'd select teachers in the schools of the Greek and Roman world based on their compatibility with your worldview and your desired level of gnosis, when books came along, you'd only collect the books that spoke to you personally, and pass up much that you'd disagree with. Newspapers were rare at first, but eventually became a vast form of media, with you able to select which yellow journalists or editors you most agreed with, and consume only their published media. Radio would have you select the personalities you most aligned with, and television eventually grew to the point where you can find the news channel you most align to as your preferred consumption source. Nothing is new about any of this, except the technology involved; and with each technological advancement the old guard got a shock when new views grasped the new forms of media and became the new guard.

Personally, I already find the current media to be rather dystopian. Everything is emotion powered, trying (and oftimes succeeding!) in sucking my reptile brain into a knee-jerk reaction. Depending on which channel you tend to watch, you're dragged by a riptide of emotions to the particular viewpoint of the handful of editors and financiers who dictate the direction of your news source.

Nanobots are not required; we already live in that society. I highly recommend reading Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) blog entries about persuasion; it's pretty eye opening on how we, as a species, have always been programmed by those more fluent in the use of persuasion.

As for the "Future of Media," here's my extrapolation. Media will continue to become easier and easier to consume; social media will use AI to learn the types of things you tend to share and automatically share them for you. This will be pitched as a convenience, but the algorithms will also attempt to shift the zeitgeist by blending your real data with whatever the algorithm owners want you to read. Something like Doctor Who's earpods seem likely; streaming a constant background stream of news into your subconsious (hopefully not ending with everyone becoming cybermen, of course).

I also predict, however, the return of the Samizdat; rogue printed publications not "approved of" by the ruling and media classes, shared physically between interested parties. The published media will continue becoming more convenient, more emotional, and more consolidated; those few who prefer content over feels will lean on the feelings of permanence of print on paper. Blogs and digital newspapers are too easy to memory-hole for these people, they'll want paper they can archive and cross reference.

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    $\begingroup$ Why Samizdats? I mean internet gave rise to all of niche news services, that normally were unable to access the market (including terribly anti-establishment, actually it sells well, even if it is not sure whether except from that it represents a radical ideology or moderate mental disorder). Assuming there some competition remain, as long as there is some demand for some viewpoint (or facts, including alternative facts), there should be supply, to create also such proper reality bubble. As Lenin allegedly said, that capitalists would sell him the rope on which they would be hanged. $\endgroup$
    – Shadow1024
    Mar 27, 2017 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Shadow1024 , Samizdats were unofficial documents transmitted clandestinely, using duplications methods that were difficult for the government to track. With the government decrying encryption as only for terrorists and ISPs tracking and logging every packet sent and received, I expect the only way (in the future) to consume non-approved non-mainstream media will fall back on physical media, transmitted by hand clandestinely, either on paper or in a digital form consumed by simple offline computers. $\endgroup$
    – Zoey Green
    Mar 27, 2017 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ We are already at the point where government and corporate data collection can make eerie predictions about people; systems like VPNs and Tor depend on you always being right; adversaries only gotta be lucky once, right? Once they have your media preferences locked in, it would just take one unguarded request to connect you to the database that's been collected. And now they know you visit those illegal Climate Change Denier websites and seem to like consuming Anti-American American history websites, or whatever. Samizdats are offline, and unless caught red-handed, are hard to network inspect. $\endgroup$
    – Zoey Green
    Mar 27, 2017 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ You know what's the risk that corporation would profile you as fan of climate Climate Change Denial websites? Thanks to usefulness of big data and correlations, they would try to sell you gold bars (useful in case of collapse of dollar system) and whole sale amount of guns (in case of US gov cancel 2nd Amendment). Just they would personalize you another reality bubble, in US it would quite big market segment. $\endgroup$
    – Shadow1024
    Mar 27, 2017 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ I really think in line of this demotivational picture: pbs.twimg.com/media/B46cwznIgAAEY5g.jpg $\endgroup$
    – Shadow1024
    Mar 27, 2017 at 19:44

Embrace the hive mind.

You have to remember that in merely hundreds of years, human beings will almost certainly be irrevocably intergrated into technology (cyborgs), and consequently intergrated with all other humans.

The production of news itself will be entirely different, no more will you need a journalist to interview a small number of people and then write a piece based on the journalist's worldview which people would then consume.

Instead "news" will be a constant dynamic stream of information passing through the minds of people acting as nodes. As this stream passes from one group of people to the next, it becomes gradually commented on, corrected, put into context based on the unique experiences and worldview of each individual. Eventually by the time it circles back to the source it will have amassed an overarching collage of interpritations, insight and perspective. Far from being laden with needless emotional baggage it will be reasonable, intelligent and consisting of a truly enormous and varied set of tiny contributions.

And this process is unending, the "news" continues to pass though humanity, losing elements which are no longer relevant and gaining "articles" from eye vitnesses and experts (which are then once again processed by the entire population).

I think a future where emotional manipulation is off the scale is highly unlikely. The only reason media has to resort to cheap tactics nowadays is because we all have, for the first time in history, all of human knowledge at our fingertips. News is becoming obsolete and the media is risking everything on its final battle (which it will inevitably lose).

Become one with the hive mind!

  • $\begingroup$ As I read this answer I see more and more that is like the borg from Star Trek ([We are the Borg. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.) ](en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borg_(Star_Trek)) $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2017 at 1:55

'Media in the modern day is putting catchy headlines and trying hard to invoke an emotional response'.

Media is being killed completely off by the Internet. The entire model of centralised broadcasting is already redundant, and we are seeing the death knell of the media model as you have depicted it.

Instead, think about what Facebook looks like - with kudos holding the central force as to what is 'noteworthy' rather than 'newsworthy'.

A fascinating aspect which demonstrates the death of the media model is that no-one wants to buy advertising space on it any more. The prices for TV adverts has plummeted since 2000, and paper media advertising income has fallen off a cliff.

Still, and this is a relevant exercise, count the number of column inches given to articles vs. the number given to advertising.

Secondly, paper-based media is too slow, too inefficient to be able to play a part in the modern world. The recent events of the UK Westminster attacks were relayed within seconds on the Internet, with photos, views, reports, the works. Newspapers were, at best, eight hours old already. Even the TV stations were minutes behind.

So, there's no doubt that the current trend is towards expert opinion and analysis, synthesising what is 'topical' - ie recent history, rather than what is new, and providing editorial copy, but even this is appealing only to an ever-ageing population.

Charlie Stross has written some great analysis of the future of the media in e.g. his novel Accelerando (the e-book is a free download, so it only costs you time, not money, to read it).

TLDR; de-centralised interest groups who share ideas - like 4chan, but without the complex threading structures that belong to the current phase of software technology.

Artifficial Intelligence derived summaries generated using info-mining technology, tailored to the individual, but not editorially produced or even written by journalists - each 'newsfeed' being completely derived by user preferences identified by behaviours, interests, attention span, and so on.

That should cover you for the next century or so.


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