Why Is The Titanic Like Ferguson, Missouri?

04/14/2015 10:43 am ET | Updated Jun 10, 2015

Engraving by Willy Stöwer: Der Untergang der Titanic 1912 by Wikicommons Media

When the Titanic went down in the Atlantic Ocean in 1912, it was one of the very first ships in the world equipped with a new-fangled piece of technology called 'radio.'

As a result, as the ship slipped into the cold sea, the radio men were able to continue to broadcast the dire event, as it happened. Some 2000 miles away, in a storefront window in Manhattan (so the story goes), a young David Sarnoff, an employee of The Marconi Company was able to receive the radio messages from The Titanic.

When word of the disaster got out (courtesy of Mr. Sarnoff and radio), massive crowds gathered in the streets in Manhattan. But they didn't gather in front of The New York Times building. Instead, they gathered in front of Wannamaker's Department Store. There had been disasters throughout human history, of course. But this was the very first time one had happened "Live".

Today, we accept almost as a given that when something hits the fan anywhere in the world - from a tsunami in Japan to the first bombing of Baghdad in the opening of the Iraq War, we will be able to flip on CNN or something and see it live, as it happens. The Titanic was the first time in human history that that had ever happened, and it is largely because of that, that Titanic still resonates so strongly in our collective history more than 100 years after the fact.

The reason that The Titanic went live, of course, was because of the arrival of what was then a very new technology - radio. Think of it as the Internet of its day. And think of 1912 as 1992 (if you catch my drift here). The early days of radio.

Now, we are the 'early days' of another interesting technology.

Let's call it Ubiquitous Video.

No, let's not call it that. That's not a very catchy name.

Let's call it Video Everywhere.

Yeah. That's better.

Video Everywhere.


VE Day.

TV networks executives like to talk about "Television Everywhere". That is, pretty soon you will be able to watch TV on your smart phone, your tablet, you computer and I suppose on your Apple Watch.

But their understanding of "TV Everywhere" is really a very 1950's idea jammed into a 2015 technology.

They still see the world as .0001% TV producers and 99.9999% TV viewers.

That is not what is going to happen. In fact, it is not what is happening.

3 billion smart phones in use around the world today means there are 3 billion TV studios in 3 billion hands.

Where do you think the 'footage' for Ferguson or "I can't breathe' or Walter Scott comes from?

And do you think that iPhone video is only good for capturing white cops shooting (or choking to death) young black men?

This is the Titanic Moment - the moment at which we will all suddenly have an expectation that anything any cop does anywhere will be available for the world to see. And, as soon as police departments start making all their cops wear body cams (which they will do), that will indeed become the norm.

But, as with the radio on The Titanic, this is but the tip of the iceberg (so to speak).

Because next will come soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan videoing (or live streaming) what they do. And if you think film footage from Vietnam caused an uproar in American living rooms in the 1960s, wait until this stuff starts coming out live. And still, that is but the beginning.

Take out your iPhone, point it at your wife or husband making dinner and you know what you've got? You've got a 'show' for The Cooking Channel (and wasn't that easy). Going to Paris? Take out your iPhone and start to record your trip and you know what you've got? You've got a show for The Travel Channel.

Now it gets really interesting. Going to a concert? Take out your phone and start live streaming. Know what you've got? You've got The CMA Award LIVE from Nashville, Tennessee - on your phone (as opposed to on ABC with all those commercials). Going to a baseball game?

You get the idea.

Now, is ABC going to collect everyone's iPhones as they stream into every music venue? Is MLB going to collect all phones at Yankee Stadium? I don't think so.

Once the technology genie is out of the bottle, you can't jam him back in.

And he's out.

S0 yes, in the not too distant future (like next week), you can start to expect to see everything, all the time, no matter what and no matter where. Produced by everyone.

It is messy?

You bet it is.

Is it going to happen?

As my friend tells me, it already has.