The Internet is dead! Long live … television?

So says Mark Cuban. Now, I’m typically a big Cuban fan. But I’m looking at an AdAge report on his remarks from yesterday’s Cable Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) Summit, and I’m a little puzzled.

Speaking at the Cable Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) Summit in Washington yesterday, Mr. Cuban declared “the Internet is dead” in an otherwise subdued panel that included executives such as ESPN President George Bodenheimer and Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt.The real growth medium is the “intranet,” otherwise defined as the on-demand and digital video-recording platforms provided by cable companies. “There’s less restriction on the intranet, it’s like your own corporate network for all the cable networks and even wireless,” he elaborated in an interview after the panel. “It’s all locally driven anyways. It has a true neighborhood feel. If I’m in Dallas and I’m on Time Warner Cable, I want localized content.” 

Mr. Cuban views the TV as the real computer, citing the decline in sales of desktop computers as a direct result of where media consumption is moving. “All that [content] is moving to the TV. What’s the difference between a PC and a TV? Nothing.” Social networking and user-generated content are all the rage for Web 2.0, but there’s “nothing on the horizon” from a content perspective, he said (apparently glossing over the looming launches of NBC and News Corp.’s NewCo web-video venture and Joost). Broadband video, according to Mr. Cuban, has “stopped growing.”

There’s a lot to try and parse here, and I wonder if his views would be clearer if I’d heard the entirety of his remarks.

In any case, his concept of “intranet” seems to refer to a proprietary content dump where there’s not much community or interaction. People want “neighborhood,” and neighborhood is about local and content.

Well, sure, to some degree, but I’m trying to think of a major development or trend in the online world that doesn’t argue his point. For one thing, he seems to be arguing this as an either/or proposition when it isn’t – I can have the length and breadth and depth of my Web 2.0 and whatever proprietary networks he’s talking about. Further, he mentions user-generated content, but in saying there’s no new content driver on the horizon he seems to have assumed that UGC has … peaked? Stopped? Fascinating perspective, that, and potentially the most incorrect he’s ever been about anything in his life. UGC looks like a massive growth area online, and then we might want to think about what happens when we fully hitch mobile to these 2.0/social media drivers. This is something Cuban clearly hasn’t pondered – to the extent that you’re looking past the Internet and seeing television as the next big thing, you’ve marched the whole band down a blind alley.

When all is said and done, social media are essentially about transforming the Internet into something like what I think Cuban means by “intranet” (although I may be completely off here). Maybe this results from the degree to which the Net has penetrated our social lives. Max Kalehoff is certainly being a bit cutesy in declaring the “user” dead, but underneath the “hey, look over here!” is a legitimate point. As “using” the internet becomes a ubiquitous exercise, the term “using” ceases to have meaning – the medium is nearly fully integrated into our lives, and at that point user becomes synonymous with “person.” After all, there aren’t any people who are “users” of air, right?

As I say, his thinking might make a lot more sense to me if I’d been there to hear all he had to say. Or maybe we caught him on a muddled day. Hard to say – I’d love to see a vid or a transcript.

In any case, while these are the pronouncements of an iconoclast, they’re not those of a visionary.

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2 responses to “The Internet is dead! Long live … television?

  1. Pingback: The Internet is dead! Long live … television? « Scholars and Rogues·

  2. I hope like hell he’s wrong. I can’t think of anything remotely more anti-democratic that the vision he describes.

    Thanks for the catch, Sam.

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