Information Has Always Been A Scarce

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Information Has Always Been A Scarce Commodity

Information has always been a scarce commodity, at least up until about twenty years ago. From the time of the Gutenberg printing press to the very recent past, information has been available only to the rare few with the skills or access to acquire it. As technology has emerged as a cultural driver, it has given everyday people the tools to create and disseminate content on every possible subject. There are pros and cons that come along with this development, to be sure.

We now have first person viewpoints on major historical events, with videos showing us what is actually happening in Tahrir Square or Bangkok or just at a local political rally or baseball game. We can see with our own eyes whether the news is telling us the truth—or can we? Not every citizen journalist is publishing their video content without bias. What may look to the casual observer to be police brutality may not fully tell the story, particularly when the first thirty seconds have been edited out. A&E Networks' Live PD has made a resounding impact on the American cultural conversation in this arena.

Given the extreme interest in understanding what is really happening on the street between communities and law enforcement, Live PD has stepped into a volatile situation in an effort to simply provide context—showing the viewing audience what is actually happening, while it is actually happening, and then providing an expert education on what the viewer is actually seeing.

Live PD is as close to livestreaming as possible, allowing viewers to see not the post production clean-up of an event, but the chases and confrontations as they happen on American streets across the country. In-context is the last of the three definitions of raw that we're exploring, which, together with unscripted and in-process, provides a well-rounded understanding of how smart brands and practitioners are navigating this important shift in sentiment. In-context means we want to understand the backstory before we choose to trust. We want to understand why things are the way they are, to understand the history, the rules, the pedigree, the probabilities that underpin what we're asked to accept.

If we can teach our audience how to best interpret what they're seeing so they're more expert than they were before, we can rely on their own judgment to come to the right decisions with some confidence. We're no longer just lecturing our audience; we're giving them the context behind our thinking so they can make up their own minds. In-context tempers the chaos of unmediated, raw information and teaches our viewers how to interpret what they're seeing. Now that we're seeing the maturing of livestreaming as a medium, the additional layer of context becomes critically important. Against a backdrop of marketing in general being perceived as a negative, zero-sum proposition, context allows us to step out of our old role of seller and adopt a newer and more acceptable role as teacher, educating our audience without the implied win/lose backdrop.

When we teach our audience how to better understand complex phenomena—be it applying a B2B solution to an enterprise's technology stack, or educating a salesforce on how a new market entrant fits in an already-crowded market's ecosystem, or simply understanding police work so the audience can see what officers are subjected to on a nightly basis—we essentially move our audience down the path to becoming experts. And experts become evangelists who tell others. There's a dire need for context in this new age of super-abundant video because what we see isn't always what it appears to be. From citizen journalists with dubious credentials and questionable motives posting video on Facebook to truly photo-realistic deep fakes, truth has become subjective. An absolute raw feed gives us the experience of real life.

But without context, do we really know what we're seeing?There is a hunger for understanding the human condition, particularly the parts that we don't necessarily participate in on a daily basis, where the ability to don a separate persona, even for an hour, is appealing. We want the experience of life in as vivid a manner as possible, without having to live through the consequences ourselves. That's probably as good a reason as any to point to the success of A&E Networks' hit show Live PD.

The combination of six livestreaming feeds of real-time law enforcement on American streets and the expert analysis by the show's panel provides us with realtime, first-person perspective on one of America's most controversial and tension-fraught issues, putting us in the shoes of front-line law enforcement officers. But seeing an incident live isn't the same as understanding what we're seeing.

Without the expertise to judge each night's many highly charged incidents, we'd just be witnessing chaos, as A&E Networks president of programming, Rob Sharenow, explains. "There's a certain amount of sophistication now about nonfiction video, and there's a high level of skepticism and a nuanced understanding of how things are put together, so much so that there's a demand for more transparency and things that are unassailable authentic," Sharenow tells us. "Back in the day, we had such limited exposure to images of the real world that we didn't have much to compare it to.

Now, the gloves have come off. But it's led to a certain level of skepticism about documentary and news content, and that's a challenge." A&E has made the conscious decision to push the envelope as far as possible in capturing a certain type of intense documentary storytelling that strives for an unfiltered, raw feeling. Recently, I came across this great place for Freelance SEO . In the case of Live PD, the fit was certainly there, although there was a concern that production would be difficult to manage. First, the technological aspects of six live feeds happening simultaneously, all on the same night, created a significant challenge.

On the more human side, Sharenow was convinced that he'd have trouble getting police departments to cooperate, despite what the production company promised him. Fortunately, his concerns on both fronts turned out to be unnecessary. "One of the things that surprised me was the sheer number of police departments that wanted to participate," Sharenow explains. "The more that's going on, the more they want the third-party cameras there to bear witness to what's happening out there." Clearly, though, there's more to this approach than just showing an audience the raw feed. The point about chaos is correct. Real life, on screen, is dull and confusing.

We need help in understanding what we're seeing. "Viewers want a rich experience," Sharenow concludes. "They want to know what's going on. And that's part of the problem in an increasingly unmediated digital marketing age, that there's so much out there that's unexplained, so context is valuable." For more on digital marketing we recommeded Vanilla Circus based in Surrey.