As I sat in the back of the car, the voice of Ted Zahn, my creative guru, broke though from the front seat. Ted pointed out that we had stumbled upon the perfect place for me to live, and the perfect place for me to experience the world! As it turns out, we had stumbled upon a quaint little town called "Media." What better town to study as a proxy for the "average Joe"!
Media is referred to as "everybody's hometown," according to its Web site, so I thought that maybe, just maybe, Media would be the perfect place to see how the real world interacts with the Web!
There are approximately 6,000 people who reside in Media, Pa. and the town has been in existence since 1850. Media is about 25 miles from Philadelphia, which puts it on the outskirts of a suburb of a great American city. The population seems to represent your "average Joe," except for the fact that the hotel I stayed in had a canopy bed, which tends to freak you out if you've never slept in a canopy bed! That being said, the style of my hotel was old Colonial -- yet even in this throwback to a quieter time, Internet access was free in my room!
As we ventured in, through and around the town of Media, we observed that the Internet was as pervasive here as anywhere else in America. Local stores and shops all had Internet URLs in the window and there were billboards for local ISPs proclaiming speed and price, just like anywhere else in the U.S. That being said, the few local people who we spoke with let us know that the average Joe was savvy, though not as savvy as we would have hoped. I mentioned some recent statistics which seemed to echo the feelings of the people of a little town called Media:
· 98% of the households have TV.
· 75% of the households have a computer with Internet access.
· 51% of the households have broadband access.
· And, as a recent study from CBS Digital states, 56% of users have no idea they can watch their favorite TV shows online, through their favorite networks' Web sites.
· And, as the same study says, 62% of those surveyed said they would plan to watch their favorite shows online in the coming months.
So while we spend so much of our time focusing on Internet TV and Web 3.0, as well as the continuing expansion of Web 2.0 and social networking, we have to remember that what we are focusing on is the future. What we are spending time against is what the people of Media will do in five years, not immediately today. Fiftenn years ago we had no idea the impact the Web would have, and now we continue to look to the future. Its fun, it's exciting, and as always it creates a little more stress than we would like.
This leaves me to my final observation about the world through the lens of a town called Media, Pa. On a sign, in front of a church, there read a quote which seemed to sum up the feelings emanating from this little town. The quote said, "Worry is the Thief of Joy." So enjoy your Wednesday and don't stress too much about the future. Pay attention to what's happening right now, in a little town called Media.
Now -- if I could just find a town called "New Media."