(If you've already read this post, just skip to the UPDATE at the BOTTOM.)

What is the Alden Curve?  (Or, perhaps more to the point: Why?)

Well, the modestly named Alden Curve is two things:

First, it's a pattern of content consumption.  More specifically, it's the contrast between two different patterns of video content consumption: a contrast between how all of us used to consume video content in the fading world of scheduled "traditional media," and how more and more of us now enjoy video in the ever-growing, on-demand and interactive world.

It's a concept I started noodling around with a couple of months ago, and recently started showing to a few friends who work in various corners of the media industry.

(Usually I'd tentatively bring it up at the end of a conversation about something else entirely, I would draw the curves on the back of a piece of paper or napkin, sketchily put forth the idea and ask my companions for their thoughts.  During one particularly fruitful conversation, Andrew Heyward, the former president of CBS News, dubbed it, "The Alden Curve."  And, honestly, who am I to argue with Mr. Heyward?)

Below is the curve for TV News and Entertainment.

              (Click on the images to enlarge them.)





So, what's the significance of the Curve?

I'm still noodling with that — but almost all the folks I've showed it to agree that, unlike Gertrude Stein's opinion of the city of Oakland, there's at least some there, there.  Or, more to the point, in the words of Stephen Stills: "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear."

But the pattern is real, and I do think it tells us something about the direction in which content consumption is heading — and that has a good deal of significance for content producers, programmers and distributors.

(I'll posit some of the details in future posts.)

Which finally brings us to the second thing that is "The Alden Curve"; i.e. this blog:

More than just a place to post my musings on the curve, this blog is a place where I hope others will post their responses, thoughts and challenges. A place to think collaboratively along some of the tangents of the curve.  It's also a place where I'll be posting some examples of other trends that I've been encountering, and even some interviews with folks who work and play on various slopes along the curve.

So, here goes nothing.

Or, just maybe, something...............?



UPDATE: "Disruptive Selection"

In May of 2009, I peaked over the shoulder of my 15 year-old biology (and "House") obsessed daughter as she was studying evolution, and I discovered the below:


(Click on the images to enlarge them.)

The curve on the bottom-right looks pretty familiar, doesn't it?

Makes sense that The Alden Curve, which is about the effect of disruptive technologies — like video on demand, YouTube, et al — would match up with what biologists refer to as the curve for "Disruptive Selection."