Although any number of intriguing innovations in communication and the arts may be just over the horizon for us, ultimately the most significant of these is the one that can give producers of creative material the opportunity to connect with their natural audiences and markets.
This is the innovation that enables people to choose trusted "taste mavens" to take them to music, writing, or other forms of content that are most likely to appeal to their own individual tastes.
Our era is one of communications gigantism, in which a very limited number of mega-entities devote virtually all their resources to the quest for a few mega-hits and blockbusters. When all other material is effectively brushed aside, consumers are deprived of options that would better express their tastes and their individuality, while the vast majority of creative producers are told they are superfluous and irrelevant.
Not only is this a poor way of matching producers with consumers, it is absolutely no way to foster innovation and creativity. Insisting that every creative work be instantly recognizable as a likely mega-hit is like insisting that every book be pre-sold before it is produced. It returns us to the economics of pre-Gutenberg times, when the investment of labor required to hand-copy a book made it extremely risky to produce anything other than already well-established works like the Bible--effectively precluding experimentation with innovations like the novel.
Expanding our supply of gatekeepers is the most effective way to move us past this blockage. There are already enormous quantities of creative material available on the Internet. What’s been missing is just a way to put people in touch with the content that best suits their tastes. Providing meaningful incentives for people to sift through material and match it to tastes is the best way to ensure this function is performed.
Much of the software needed to provide such an environment has now been developed. What is needed at this point to breathe life into the service is for people with respected taste in areas like music, writing, and the visual arts to begin using it as a supplement to their existing blogs and other forms of communication.
Once the new service is vigorously and organically alive, it will enable a structural reinvigoration of virtually every form of creative expression that can be rendered digitally. A transformation of this type would be profoundly democratic and liberating.
If historical precedents can tell us anything, we should look forward to a wave of innovation and advancement.