If you care at all about the media, take in Paul Graham's latest on publishing. He points out that in spite of publishers' protestations that content is king, industry economics show it's simply be used as a device to sell folded and bound paper, or whichever tangible medium in which it's been fixed. With the content increasingly decoupled from any physical carrier, that business model and the industry built on it approach collapse. RTWT.
If I find any place to take exception with Graham's analysis, it's in his treatment of software. He correctly calls it out as a class partially separated from content in general:
Is software a counterexample? People pay a lot for desktop software, and that's just information. True, but I don't think publishers can learn much from software.... though in form merely information, software is treated by both maker and purchaser as a different type of thing from a song or an article. A Photoshop user needs Photoshop in a way that no one needs a particular song or article.
Great so far as it goes, but software differs in kind from generic content. Software is embodied behavior, performed differently for each task, user or audience. Digital media can be simply a conduit for fixed content, a la YouTube, or become dynamic when contingent behavior in the form of programming is introduced. The software industry has been weaned away from any dependency on physical embodiment over the last 15 years, where the paper and plastic content industries have had their business assumptions 'baked in' over much longer periods, and have begun their adaptions belatedly. The most provocative developments may come from segments, like games, where content, software behaviors, and audience reactions and actions are all intertwined.