From Publishers Weekly
Banister, a media industry consultant, suggests that networked media—most especially, the Internet—is still in its earliest stages, with greater levels of connectivity yet to come. His argument, though rich in McLuhanesque theory, has a foundation solid enough for any bottom-line businessman to grasp: successful companies need to create "communities" of consumers who possess the "symphonic literacy" to fully participate in new forms of media while the companies find ways to turn that participation into a financial transaction. Some elements, such as access to the network, may go down in price or even become free, as companies are forced to respond to consumer expectations. The online auction site eBay is held up as a "near-perfect paradigm" of the networked experience, but Banister also points toward the entertainment industry, where electronic gamers are already discovering interactive "storyforming" and "storydwelling." The future gazing takes an odd turn, though, when Banister starts enthusing about "a living or conscious web of man," the next stage of evolution, which will change us into "humanodes," consuming and producing media with equal agility. A proclamation that networked media are "feminine" and will restore a transcendental cultural balance may alienate readers who simply want a financial edge. Readers of Wired magazine will find it all old hat, while the subject and corporate emphasis will be of limited appeal to a general audience.
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Banister is a veteran media industry executive, who has worked with Disney, Spielberg, and Warner Brothers, but his grasp of the potential of digital technology seems more akin to the latest generation of gamers and programmers. Every new medium has changed the way we relate to each other and the world. With the advent of the Internet--a networked medium--the very definition of media is being challenged, and Banister believes that we have yet to fully conceive of the profound implications that this form of communication will have on human interaction and consciousness. Rather than a passive consumer of programming dictated by others, the Internet user for the first time becomes an interactive participant in the medium, a human node on a network of producers, marketers, distributors, and vendors of products and services. Already, millions sell products on eBay, share thoughts with the world on Web logs (or "blogs"), and assist in a multitude of complex technical issues on public forums. Banister presents an astounding vision of cocreation and empowerment in the decades ahead. David Siegfried
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