Johannes Guttenberg is on the radio, chatting up millionaires, entrepreneurs, and poker sharks...
James Altucher is the host of a new podcast on the Stansberry Radio Network. Altucher is part mad scientist, part hedge fund manager... with an added dash of honesty about the world that people can't resist. He's real, widely loved by those who follow him, and he's part of the most important change in communication since Guttenberg invented the printing press.
Plenty of ink has been spilled lauding the Internet revolution. But its influence on our lives and our culture reach much deeper than simply giving us instant access to last night's box score or whether the big snowfall closed the local schools.
This phenomenon is creating an unprecedented level of choice and freedom in our modern culture. It's created the most radical shift in the control of power since Guttenberg's printing press ended the Middle Ages.
Guttenberg's printing press was about much more than simply people's ability to churn out lots of cheap bibles. Before the printing press, the Church held a monopoly on education and thought. If you wanted to hear the bible's teachings -- or just see a book -- you had to go to church and listen to a priest read the gospel and tell you what it meant.
The printing press let people own their own bible... read it for themselves... and form their own ideas about what it meant. It changed the world. People found themselves in an environment of explosive opportunity, knowledge and information. It was a change that was embraced fully and created a freedom unheard of in preceding times. It led Europe into the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of modern scientific thought.
Today, the Internet is causing the same kind of disruption to our culture and the power wielded by information "gatekeepers", more so exponentially every day.
Today, the Internet is giving people access to all kinds of information on almost every topic imaginable... and you don't need anyone's permission to read it. It has allowed us opportunity to make a dramatic shift in consumption. Gatekeepers can't control the information we may consume... it's all out there. And individual users -- you and I -- determine which ideas gain traction and are amplified in this online "marketplace." We're" voting" with clicks, "likes," downloads, posts, and comments.
Look at the recent popularity of the James Altucher Show. Altucher is not a "main stream" guru. He's not a favorite among the traditional media, and I doubt millions of people know his name yet. He's a former hedge fund manager and chess champion with a good story that people can relate to. But he's a bit of a "wild card" and I'll bet major radio conglomerates wouldn't spend a moment thinking about giving him a show. Ten years ago, he'd have had no show, no voice...
And yet, Altuchr's podcast launched on a Friday (January 24, 2014). By Saturday morning, it was on the top of the charts in all of iTunes where it remained for several days. Last I checked, it's still hovering in the top 100 of overall iTunes podcasts and remains in the top five in the Business and Investing category -- beating many shows hosted by highly paid "celebrities" employed and promoted by the major media corporations.
Here's the clincher: the new Altucher show is a business show -- a category that traditionally doesn't top the charts on iTunes. Plus, there are many other "big names" with long-running podcasts that Altucher beat out in his debut.
The thing that set Altucher apart was the following he had in social media and via his blog. Altucher has published several books as well, and I'm sure has developed a following through those. Mostly, he will tell you according to his blog, the books that have done the best for him have been the ones he self-published -- again without going through a typical agent/publishing house/gatekeeper model. The gatekeepers power to filter the messages you hear are breaking down.
For years, social media outlets have launched careers of singers, songwriters and many fan favorites in our popular culture. But up until lately, these on-line "sensations" were few and far between. It was a nice foreshadowing. The age of smartphones combined with the power of the Internet have allowed consumers of information to choose for themselves what is important and what is not, ending the need for traditional industry "gatekeepers" on knowledge and information and content.
It will be fascinating to discover what this new information age will bring us and how the shift of content distribution at the hands of the people to impact society and culture.
And, if you have a chance, check out the James Altucher Show on iTunes -- I hope you love it as much as I have...