It's living in the future early-00's stylee to push 'pause' on your TiVo, fire up iChat on your wireless laptop, and tell your oldest friend that her most famous relation is tonight's guest on the Colbert Report. By this point, that's almost passé.
But it's living in the future mid-decade-wise to see Colbert on the show issue a "White Christmas" Beatles/Christmas song mashup challenge to his audience, announce that the results will be posted to the Internet, and say "Dangermouse, I know you're watching." And this the same day as I read the New York Times coverage of Conan O'Brien's Horny Manatee site:
“We couldn’t have done this two years ago, three years ago,” Mr. O’Brien said. “It’s sort of this weird comedy dialogue with the audience.”
This sort of user-generated content feedback loop with mainstream media is the sort of thing we nerds have been evangelizing for since, oh, a lot longer than two years ago. Not just evangelizing, trying to sell the idea and the tools to make it happen to major networks and other content providers, if you're a digital media design consultant of some sort: I don't want to even think about how many times I've cited Dangermouse myself in meetings. So it's weird and delightful to see everything you predicted start to come true, even if it's happening in ways you didn't predict.
Though, actually, I think this is the way it had to happen. Both of my examples are comedy shows -- by their nature anarchic, irreverent, and bricolage-friendly -- with strong central performers who can push through something they want to do. Those are much more likely sites for innovation than corporate headquarters, and because it's a Colbert project, or a Conan one, if it fails, it gives their bosses some space and deniability. Innovation from below rather than above; really, who could have seen that one coming? But still, Stephen -- if you want to talk about some awesome ideas about the future of media, well, you know where to find me.