Today is St Crispin's day - also the day of the battle of Agincourt. Agincourt was a battle that demonstrated a Tipping Point in warfare - and shows a pattern that continues throughout warfare and Media. That at key points, those that understand the cultural context of the new - which is always more democratic and cheaper than the old - win.
Agincourt - The Longbow. But this is more than the technology - it takes a shift in culture to accept that peasants with a new weapon can dominate the battlefield. It is very much like the Stinger hand held missile - used by an illiterate Afghan - that can take out a Blackhawk Helicopter or an IED take out an APC. We are still like the French at Agincourt, so attached culturally to how we fight, that we look for ways to defend the indefensible rather than to use a new cultural perspective for war fighting.
So please don't laugh at the French in Henry V - for we are them. The French are shown by Shakespeare to have total confidence in not only their investment in the then main battle tank, the Knight, but in the cultural meaning of the Knight as a man separated by class and breeding.
I find much of the current discussion of "Journalism" the same kind of self confident talk. Saying in effect that only us, who have been to J School - worked on newspapers etc - know how to tell a story. That only a newspaper or TV station can host the news. I hear a "class" hatred of the "peasants" who have learned to use this new technology so well.
Here Branagh nails the democratic story that underlines the spirit of Agincourt - that we are brothers - an idea that was inconceivable to the French. He opens with many gestures to the aristocracy, but then as the director uses the close up - we come to the heart of the matter - that all will be "gentled" - that all are brothers. If you see the Olivier version, you will see that Olivier underplays this aspect - the words are said but with much less emphasis.
Branagh is the modern version where the point is everyman.
This is more than a naive view of democracy - it is about costs and effectiveness. Much of the argument today is about how do we get enough revenue to cover the costs of the old. I think that this is the wrong question.
The Investment that we have made in modern weaponry Tanks, Supersonic Fighters, Attack Helicopters have been nullified by a ultra low cost social alternative. If you can see this - then can you see that the same is true for newspapers and traditional TV and Radio Stations?
It was the same with a scribe and a press. A book created by a scribe was all but priceless. A printed book was affordable by many.
Just as the ROI of an archer versus a knight, an IED versus an APC is overwhelming so the new media tools and new practices cost so much less than the old media tools and practices.
The costs are in the culture and hence in the organization itself. Isn't this the Clayton Christenson Innovator's Dilemma?
So how did the English solve the Dilemma? They simply did not have the wealth to try and meet the French on their terms. They had used archers for more than 100 years and were used to them. Henry was very ambitious. His ambition overrode his attachment to class.
Public Media does not have the wealth to try and meet old media face to face. We have learned a lot about new media. If we had the ambition.......?
So where to look for the new organization? Surely to see Pub Media as a true network.
Now the station is the fractal node that like an old fashioned Hollywood studio is self sufficient.
I look forward to a new discussion of what might be the costs of a true network and how we might start this.
Intuitively such a network would have a local hub that would aggregate locally and feed into and take from a larger system. Much of the supporting infrastructure would be shared. This is a far cry from what is now. But I can see such a new network is sort of emerging from the Facing the Mortgage Crisis project - I hope that we can make some progress here.