I'm the guy credited with the term '7th mass medium' which explains why mobile is unique and distinct mass media from say comparing to the internet or TV or print. Since my book came out (Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media) in 2008 (a global tech bestseller, thank you all who bought it) - many keep asking me what is the 8th mass media. And up to now, I have said I don't know.
Last year a friend and colleague of mine, Raimo van der Klein (a long-time MoMoista - Mobile Monday - from the Amsterdam MoMo chapter) now the CEO of Layar, the Augmented Reality (AR) browser company, suggested that AR is the 8th mass medium. I thought about it then, and as the only commercially practical uses of AR in 'mass market' uses (for consumer media, not for example military goggles for fighter pilots) were on smartphones, I felt AR was only a media format for mobile. I did immediately accept that AR was at least the 8th unique ability of mobile haha, for which obviously Raimo gets the credit. And I told him I'd keep my mind open about it and consider what evidence we might have of the future of AR.
Now I read a Tweet from another very dear friend of mine, Antti Ohrling, known in the past for co-creating Blyk and earlier for his award-winning digital ad agency of Finland, Contra. Antti is one of those superduper bright people that whenever you meet, you feel like you want more time, and just hope you could take a tin-can opener, open up their brain, and just eat it all.. Like you know, our Alan Moore, or Dan Applequist or Jouko Ahvenainen or Richard Ting or Jonathan MacDonald or Lars Cosh-Ishii or Russell Buckley or Matti Makkonen or Mike Smith or Rory Sutherland. People who really REALLY get mobile - and get digital - and have lived this industry for decades and have enormous insights. So Antti retweeted something about those cool Google glasses we heard of last week. He did not even make the statement that shook me, it was an article written at Tech Crunch by Josh Constine, entitled 'Apple and Facebook should be Terrified of Google-Tinted Glasses'. Now, the headline is somewhat typical 'hype' headline as most modern tech articles seem to be (just look at my overhyped blog article titles often haha). But for Antti to bother to retweet that, I sensed Antti agreed with the sentiment of that headline..
And I would trust Antti's judgement 100% (I am tempted to say 101% but I am too much the stats-nut to know its not possible to give more than 100% haha) and it didn't take me long into that article for a massive thought to emerge. Yes, AR is cool on smartphones. But that is 'part time' use of AR. What if AR was the first unavoidable mass media channel? The first pervasively consumed mass media? Mobile phones as we know from the 7th Mass Media theory, have unique abilites such as being always connected and being permanently carried. So too will be AR (on glasses) but we don't consume media on our phones in uninterrupted way. The media consumption is in our pocket but we also put it into our pocket, away. These AR glasses by Google will change all that. We are seeing the birth of the first pervasive mass media (that might not be the best term, I have to think about it). So yes, am ready to call it. Augmented Reality is the 8th Mass Medium. And thank you Raimo van der Klein for discovering it, and for first postulating that might be so. I am your first convert haha. Here is the new list in order of their introduction:
1st mass media PRINT - from 1400s (books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, billboards)
2nd mass media RECORDINGS - from 1890s (records, tapes, cartridges, videocassettes, CDs, DVDs)
3rd mass media CINEMA - from 1900s
4th mass media RADIO - from 1920s
5th mass media TELEVISION - from 1940s
6th mass media INTERNET - from 1992
7th mass media MOBLE - from 1998
8th mass media AUGMENTED REALITY - from 2010
Note also how instrumential Google has been in this development. The first Layar AR mass market solutions were on Android smartphones. And now again its Google goggles that helped jumpstart this fledgling media industry. Wow. Google is 'creating' a massive digital media environment for itself to thrive in. If anyone learned the lesson of 'creating new market space' haha as Alan Moore and I argued in the signature book to this blog, Communities Dominate Brands, where we used Apple's iPod and iTunes as the perfect case example - haha, Google learned that lesson and then put the Google massive scale spin to it indeed. This is a new mass medium and it will be massive. MASSIVE. I would suggest immediately that it will be far bigger than the 5th media TV and 6th media internet, and I am willing to suggest, it may become bigger than mobile the 7th media itself. Awesome!
I will return with much more on this but for now, wanted to post it and celebrate. Now we know what came after mobile as a mass media channel, it is AR. Feel free to share the info, the updated list, and links to this blog. Am looking forward to comments!