Playing Professor

I had the awesome opportunity to play professor (a sometimes dream of mine) on Friday. A group of new media students from the The University of Alabama in Huntsville visited campus. My supervisor and the actual professor teaching the students went to graduate school together. Through a weird chain of events (and no ass-kissing) I was the lucky duck who got to “teach” them for the afternoon.

I’m no shrinking violet, but 30 young-20-somethings is intimidating, especially if they came to hear about Cartoon Network and [adult swim] and they got me. But I started out with a brief history of Turner and a broad talk about the cable industry and our motivations in new media. Sure, I threw in some tidbits about Andy Merrill and the genesis of [adult swim] as well, but I came from the point of view of all our networks. It was really informative for me as well, since I got to see just how much these kids knew.

Some stats:

  • Most, if not all, had broadband at home
  • About 1/4 had downloaded BitTorrent content in the past week
  • 10% had a good understanding of HDTV
  • All of them understood Flash and the merits of content management
  • The word “blog” was mentioned by them, not me, a half-dozen times

I’m sure I’m missing some equally interesting metrics, but that’s what I can recall. For my part, here are some of the opportunities/new business/new media growth potential areas I mentioned.

  • Wireless – Cellphones, PDAs, whatever comes next
  • Enhanced TV
  • Set-top boxes, including DVRs (TiVo, Replay, Windows HME)
  • Branded online environments

Again, my caveat applies. I spoke for more than 90 minutes, so I’m sure I’ve left something out.

The one thing I did emphasize ad nauseam was the fact that in the digital 21st century, anyone could be a star tomorrow. If you don’t have a blog, podcast, vlog or cool site (Ferry Halim or Homestar Runner) to show of your skills, you’re toast. This is new media and literally anyone can do it – which is both exciting and scary. But if you have passion and dedication, you will succeed. Beefcake!

I know it sounds cheesy and very Dead Poets Society, but it’s true. Grant me some degree of cheesiness since I don’t play professor often. I honestly believe that the future stars of new media, of all media, will be individuals or companies who believe in the empowerment of the technology.

It’s cheap and it’s easy: why aren’t you (or me) a rockstar yet?

And a big thank you to Dr. Mike Hubler and his students. You were very gracious for listening to me drone on and you had some great questions. Good luck exploring the infinite abyss.

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