Digital Media and Innovation: Management and Design Strategies in Communication


Richard A. Gershon

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Text Size

  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Copyright


    For Casey

    and Rod Rightmire, mentor, friend, and colleague


    The Navarra Lectures

    This book was several years in the making. It represents the direct outgrowth of a graduate course that I began teaching at Western Michigan University in 2009 entitled Strategic Planning, Communication, and Innovation. In this course, we look at the importance of strategic decision making and innovation with a special emphasis given to the entrepreneurs, project teams, and companies responsible for some of today’s most engaging media and telecommunications products and services. This course set the foundation for much of my current research in the field of media management and telecommunications. In 2011, I was fortunate to obtain a Fulbright scholarship that took me to the University of Navarra in Spain, where I was invited to be a visiting professor. While at Navarra, I taught a similar graduate course but used the time to refine the subject matter and sketched out the basic outline for the present text. In many ways, this book could just as easily be subtitled The Navarra Lectures.

    During my time at Navarra, I was able to successfully complete a monograph entitled “Intelligent Networks and International Business Communication: A Systems Theory Interpretation,” Media Markets Monographs, No. 12, Universidad de Navarra Press. In this monograph, I ask the question: What makes an intelligent network intelligent? Second, how are intelligent networks used by people and business organizations? The intelligent network can be likened to the internal nervous system of an organization. Developing a set of answers to these questions became the basis for a whole host of material pertaining to digital media and photographic display, electronic commerce (EC), social networking, and artificial intelligence (AI). Part of this effort included developing a working construct that I call the Information and Telecommunications Systems (ITS) model as a way to understand the social and technological consequences of intelligent networks on people and organizations.

    About This Book

    This book represents a unique opportunity to look at the importance of innovation and innovative thinking to the long-term success of today’s leading media and telecommunications companies. Advancements in technology, most notably the Internet and digital media arts, are changing many of our basic assumptions regarding information, news, and entertainment content. This book takes an in-depth look at how smart, creative companies (both past and present) have transformed the business of media and telecommunications by introducing unique and highly differentiated products and services. Digital media represents the artistic convergence of various kinds of hardware and software design elements to create entirely new forms of communication expression. Digital media has transformed the business of retail selling and personal lifestyle, including EC, music and video streaming, social networking, as well as the sharing economy. Such innovations have proved to be real game changers by introducing into the marketplace a unique value proposition for the consumer.

    Consider, for example, how a small, start-up company called Home Box Office (HBO) in 1972 challenged the conventional thinking of the time by introducing the concept of pay television. The principle of advertiser-supported “free” television was firmly engrained in the minds of the American public. What HBO did was change public perception about the nature of television entertainment. HBO offered a uniquely innovative service emphasizing recently released movies and other specialized entertainment that could not be found elsewhere on the general airwaves. Whereas HBO was not the first company to introduce a monthly per-channel fee service, it was the first to make it work successfully. This marked the beginning of a new business model called pay television.

    Fast-forward 30 years later, and a company called Apple Computer (a one-time game changer in the field of personal computing) challenged the music industry by introducing the iPod portable music player, which relied on MP3 music file sharing software and the iTunes music store. The combination of the Apple iPod and iTunes media store created the first sustainable music downloading business model of its kind. All this came at a time when Internet piracy threatened to tear the music industry apart. The iTunes music store has redefined the way music is sold and distributed to the consumer. In 2007, lightning struck twice when Apple introduced the iPhone, an altogether new approach to smartphone technology. Both the iPod and iPhone have come to symbolize digital media in its most essential form and given shape and meaning to the principle of information exchange.

    On an altogether different innovation stage, Seattle-based in 1994 started with online books given the large, worldwide demand for literature, the low-price points for books, as well as the large number of titles available in print. The basic idea was to create a mail-order catalog, albeit electronically, using the Internet and the power of intelligent networking. To build a substantial mail-order catalog covering books in all areas of the arts, sciences, and humanities would require an encyclopedia-like publication (if not bigger). And it would be too expensive to mail. The solution, of course, was the Internet, which is ideally suited for organizing and displaying a limitless amount of information. Two decades later, company founder Jeff Bezos presides over an EC company that has redefined online shopping for billions of people worldwide.

    Another media business worthy of our consideration is the Walt Disney Company. The name Disney has become synonymous with family entertainment. The result has been an ongoing relationship with the public that began in 1923, when brothers Walt and Roy founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. Disney’s signature brand has left an indelible imprint on its animated films, theme parks, and hotel stays. What is less familiar to the public is the company’s creative design team known as Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI). They are responsible for building the creative set design, rides, and attractions, that are found throughout the various Disney worldwide theme parks, resorts, and cruises. Perhaps, most importantly, Walt Disney is an example of a company that has learned how to reinvent itself many times over throughout its more than ninety-year history, thereby demonstrating the ability to make innovation a sustainable, repeatable process.

    What companies like these share in common is a remarkable attention to detail and a commitment to the power of a good idea. This book goes inside the creative edge and looks at what makes such companies successful. It also considers why some companies fail to stay innovative over time. Special attention is given to companies such as Eastman Kodak and Blockbuster Video. In a book entitled Blue Ocean Strategy, business authors Kim and Mauborgne make the argument that to create new market opportunities, innovative companies redefine the playing field by introducing an altogether new product, service, or idea. Instead of trying to outwit the competition in a zero-sum game of one-upmanship, blue ocean companies pursue the potential market space that has yet to be explored. The rules of competition are waiting to be set. In my view, that is the true meaning of the term innovation.


    My time spent teaching and doing research at the University of Navarra gave me the chance to affirm that this was a book worth writing. I am grateful to my colleagues and friends at the University of Navarra for their friendship, collegiality, and warm hospitality. A special thank-you goes to Dr. Mercedes Medina, Dr. Alfonso Tabernero, and Dr. Alejandro Pardo. I also want to take a moment to acknowledge the Fulbright Foundation and the Haenicke Institute at Western Michigan University for providing the financial support that made my stay at the University of Navarra possible.

    I am also grateful to several of my colleagues in the field of media and telecommunications who afforded me an opportunity to write contributing chapters to various edited works collections that they were working on. Where possible, I tried to write book chapters that had direct relevance to the mission and scope of the present book. Let me begin by thanking the following people: Dr. Alan Albarran, University of North Texas, United States; Dr. Robert Picard, Oxford University, UK; Dr. Yu-Li Liu, National Chengchi University, Taiwan; Dr. Mike Friedrichsen, Institute for Media Business, Germany; Dr. Zvezdan Vukanovic, University of Donja Gorica, Montenegro; Dr. Paulo Faustino, Porto University, Portugal; Dr. Fu-Lai Tony Yu, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong; Ho-Don-Yan, Feng Chia University, Taiwan. There are several people on the executive board of the Information and Telecommunications Education and Research Association (ITERA) whose comments and suggestions have made this book immeasurably better. My thanks to Steve Wildman, Michigan State University; Mike Bowman, Murray State University; Ray Hansen, Purdue University; and my colleagues on the executive board of ITERA for helping me to better understand the principles of intelligent networking.

    A special thank-you goes to Leigh Ford, Mike Tarn, Dennis Simpson, Keith Hearit, and my colleagues at Western Michigan University for their continuous support and friendship. They allow me to do what I love doing best—teaching. I am also grateful to the senior administration at Western, whom I consider to be both colleagues and friends. They have given me encouragement and support to engage the university in a number of special projects on campus. My thanks to Dr. John M. Dunn, President, Dr. Tim Greene, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Ms. Jan VanDerKley, Vice President for Business and Finance. There are, of course, friends and family along the way who provide continuous support and encouragement in a variety of ways. I want to take a moment to thank Peter Gershon and Carol Levin.

    I am indebted to the editorial staff at Sage for helping to make this project possible. In particular I want to thank Matthew Byrnie (my editor) for his strong encouragement and belief in the value of this project. A special thank-you goes to Janae Masnovi, senior editorial assistant, who was critical to the project’s success. I also want to take a moment to thank the Sage production staff, including Veronica Stapleton Hooper and Pam Schroeder, for their invaluable assistance in the production of this work. There were several occasions where they worked their magic and smoothed out the rough edges of a table, figure, or jumbled paragraph. More importantly, they made this project look whole.

    Finally, the most important thank-you goes to my wife Casey for her continuous love and support. From North Carolina adventures to Nordic walking along the Lake Michigan coastline, I so appreciate her grace, wisdom, and sense of humor. She is my North Star. And to my son Matthew, who is learning to be a chef; Brook, who is learning to be a hair stylist; and of course my grandson, Oliver, whose deep-seated fascination with Spiderman makes the adventure all the more fun . . .

    Richard A. GershonWestern Michigan University

    About the Author

    Richard A. Gershon, PhD (Ohio University, 1986), is professor and co-director of the Telecommunications & Information Management Program at Western Michigan University, where he teaches courses in media management and telecommunications. He is the author of Media, Telecommunications & Business Strategy, 2nd ed. (2013) and The Transnational Media Corporation: Global Messages and Free Market Competition, winner of the 1998 book of the year sponsored by the National Cable Television Center. Dr. Gershon is a Fulbright scholar, having held visiting appointments at the University of Navarra, Spain, and Nihon University, Japan. Dr. Gershon has twice been selected for national teaching honors, including the Steven H. Coltrin Professor of the Year Award (2000) by the International Radio & Television Society (IRTS) and the Barry Sherman Award for Teaching Excellence (2001) by the Management and Economics division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). In 2007, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award at Western Michigan University. Dr. Gershon is a founding member of the Information and Telecommunications Education and Research Association (ITERA), where he served as the organization’s first president. Dr. Gershon currently serves on the executive board of the Western Michigan University Faculty Senate. He has twice chaired the Campus Planning and Finance Council and has been directly involved with a number of strategic planning and design efforts across campus. In addition, he serves on the WMU athletic advisory board. Dr. Gershon welcomes you to visit him at his website

  • Name Index

    • Abbate, Janet, 121
    • Albarran, Alan, 70
    • Allen, Paul, 78
    • Anderson, Chris, 66, 160
    • Antioco, John, 83, 87
    • Arieff, Allison, 232
    • Aristotle, 176
    • Arrington, Michael, 216
    • Baran, Paul, 121122
    • Bardeen, John, 56
    • Barton, Jim, 103104
    • Bechtolsheim, Andy, 32
    • Bell, Alexander Graham, 4, 24, 40, 73, 226
    • Bergdolt, J., 60
    • Berman, Rick, 171
    • Berners-Lee, Tim, 67, 112113, 226
    • Bezos, Jeff, 2, 2931, 220, 225226
    • Borders, Louis, 100101
    • Brandenberg, Karl-Heinz, 139
    • Brattain, Walter, 56
    • Breitbart, Andrew, 216
    • Brin, Sergey, 32, 40
    • Byers, Dylan, 218
    • Cailliau, Robert, 7
    • Cameraon, James, 166
    • Camp, Garrett, 106
    • Capote, Truman, 209
    • Carp, Daniel, 80, 81
    • Catmull, Edwin E., 167
    • Cauley, Leslie, 73
    • Champy, James, 58
    • Chang, S. J., 25
    • Chesbrough, Henry, 237
    • Chesky, Brian, 106
    • Christensen, Clayton, 15, 40, 7677
    • Clark, Arthur C., 170
    • Clark, Richard, 128
    • Cohen, Jared, 155
    • Collins, Jim, 15, 71, 74, 76, 86, 227
    • Congdon, Christine, 232
    • Cook, David, 8182
    • Cumiskey, K., 162
    • Daft, Richard, 144
    • Davenport, Thomas, 11, 58
    • Davies, Donald, 122
    • Davila, Tony, 39
    • Davisson, Clinton, 5
    • Dell, Michael, 55, 6163
    • Deming, W. Edwards, 57
    • de Sola Poole, Ithiel, 159160, 165
    • Deutschmann, Milton, 7576
    • Deutschmann, Theodore, 7576
    • Didion, Joan, 209
    • Dilbert, Scott Adams, 70
    • Disney, Roy, 44
    • Disney, Walt, 37, 4446
    • Dolan, Charles (Chuck), 27
    • Dorsey, Jack, 148149
    • Downie, Leonard, 221
    • Dredden, G., 60
    • Eastman, George, 78
    • Edison, Thomas, 4, 225
    • Ellu, Jacques, 109
    • Engelbart, Douglas, 141142
    • Epstein, Marc, 39
    • Fadell, Tony, 126, 228
    • Faustino, Paulo, 55
    • Filo, David, 32
    • Fisher, George, 80
    • Flynn, Donna, 232
    • Ford, Henry, 208
    • Formichetti, Nicola, 218
    • Friedrichsen, Mike, 193
    • Friis, Janus, 147
    • Fry, Arthur, 1819n10
    • Gates, Bill, 78
    • Gebbia, Joe, 106
    • Genzlinger, N., 78
    • Gershon, Richard, 21, 55, 70, 112, 128, 193
    • Ghonim, Wael, 203
    • Gladwell, Malcolm, 107108
    • Glaser, Will, 161
    • Glass, Noah, 149
    • Glasser, Susan, 216
    • Goh, Ji Mein, 87
    • Gray, Elisha, 4
    • Grove, Andy, 209210
    • Hammer, Michael, 58
    • Hastings, Reed, 6466, 68, 82
    • Heinla, Ahti, 147
    • Heiss, B., 116
    • Hirai, Kazuo, 85, 88
    • Hjorth, L., 162
    • Hoff, Robert, 23
    • Hofmann, Stefan, 200
    • Hubbard, Gardner Green, 40
    • Huffington, Arianna, 214, 216
    • Hugo, Victor, 1
    • Huizenga, Wayne, 82, 87
    • Ibuka, Masaru, 43
    • Icahn, Carl, 83
    • Idei, Nobuyuki, 8485
    • Ignatius, David, 220
    • Isaacson, Walter, 49, 51
    • Ive, Jonathan, 41, 51
    • Jobs, Steve, 2, 42, 4551, 108, 167, 208, 211212, 225228, 233
    • Johnson, Mark, 34
    • Johnson, Steven, 4, 6, 26, 233
    • Juran, Joseph, 57
    • Kagen, Paul, 28
    • Kahn, Robert, 114
    • Kalanick, Travis, 106
    • Kanter, Rosabeth Moss, 230
    • Karp, David, 161
    • Kasesalu, Priji, 147
    • Kasner, Edward, 32
    • Katz, Elihu, 95, 114, 215, 217
    • Kaufer, Stephen, 154
    • Keen, Andrew, 153155, 218
    • Kelley, David, 231
    • Kelley, Tom, 4
    • Kelly, Mervin, 226
    • Keyes, Jim, 8384
    • Kim, W. Chan, 11, 21
    • Kinsley, Michael, 216
    • Kotcher, J., 217
    • Kraft, Jon, 161
    • Kranz, Gene, 18
    • Krieger, Mike, 165
    • Kurzweil, Ray, 159, 172173
    • Kutaragi, Ken, 89, 3940
    • Lafley, A. G., 34
    • Lasseter, John, 40, 159, 167
    • Lazarsfeld, Paul, 95, 215, 217
    • Lengel, Robert, 144
    • Lerer, Kenneth, 216
    • Levin, Gerald, 7475
    • Levin, Jerry, 27
    • Levinson, Paul, 149
    • Lieberman, D., 7475
    • Liu, Yu-Li, 21
    • Lucas, George, 167
    • Lucas, Henry, 87
    • Ludwig, James, 232
    • Magolin, D., 116
    • Mailer, Norman, 209
    • Marconi, Guglielmo, 40
    • Markkula, Michael, 47
    • Massing, Michael, 218
    • Mauborgne, Renée, 11, 21
    • McCarthy, John, 168
    • Melk, John, 82
    • Monge, Peter, 116
    • Moore, Geoffrey, 9899
    • Moore, Gordon, 226, 228
    • Morita, Akio, 2, 37, 4244, 225
    • Mubarak, Hosni, 203
    • Muhl-Benninghaus, W., 193
    • Mullins, John, 101
    • Murphy, Bobby, 164165
    • Musk, Elon, 225
    • Nadkami, Ashwini, 200
    • Naisbitt, John, 155, 208, 217, 221
    • Narendra, Divya, 195
    • Nathan, John, 43, 100
    • Negroponte, Nicholas, 15, 71
    • Newton, Isaac, 1
    • Noam, Eli, 146
    • Noll, Michael, 118
    • Noyce, Robert, 228
    • Obama, Barack, 176
    • Ohga, Norio, 9, 4344, 5152, 100, 108
    • Osterwalder, Alexander, 100
    • Page, Larry, 32, 40
    • Patel, Marilyn, 188
    • Patterson, Tim, 8
    • Peretti, Jonah, 216
    • Pérez, Antonio, 81
    • Perry, Mark, 209
    • Peters, Tom, 55
    • Picard, Robert, 21, 211
    • Pigneur, Yves, 100
    • Porras, Jerry, 15, 76
    • Rams, Dieter, 4142
    • Ramsey, Mike, 103104
    • Raskin, Jef, 4849
    • Redman, Melanie, 232
    • Redstone, Sumner, 87
    • Reed, T. V., 145
    • Ring, D. H., 6
    • Rodriquez, Clemencia, 151
    • Rogers, Everett, 2, 9294
    • Ryan, Kevin, 216
    • Samuelson, Robert J., 190
    • Sandberg, Sheryl, 197
    • Sangerand, Larry, 153
    • Schmidt, Eric, 155
    • Schudson, Michael, 221
    • Schultz, Howard, 233
    • Schumpeter, Joseph, 1
    • Shannon, Claude, 123
    • Shelton, Robert, 39
    • Shockley, William, 56
    • Short, J., 11, 58
    • Silver, Spencer, 18n10
    • Sirotta, Milton, 32
    • Smith, Bill, 5758
    • Spiegel, Evan, 164165
    • Stein, Joel, 105
    • Steinert, Langley, 154
    • Steuer, J. S., 141
    • Stone, Biz, 149
    • Stringer, Howard, 85
    • Sullivan, Andrew, 218
    • Systrom, Kevin, 164
    • Tabernero, A. S., 196
    • Talese, Gay, 209
    • Tallin, Jaan, 147
    • Tandy, Charles, 75
    • Taylor, Bill, 217
    • Teare, Keith, 216
    • Thiel, Peter, 23, 195
    • Thomke, Stefan, 231
    • Thompson, Hunter, 209
    • Tokunaka, Teruo (Terry), 9
    • Torvalds, Linus, 910
    • Turing, Alan, 168
    • Vernon, Raymond, 77
    • Vinge, Vernor, 172173
    • von Bertalanffy, Ludwig, 114
    • Vukanovic, Zvezdan, 55
    • Wales, Jimmy, 153
    • Walker, Amanda, 51
    • John Warnock, 228
    • Weaver, Warren, 123
    • Webber, Alan, 217
    • Weick, Karl, 118
    • Westergren, Tim, 161
    • Wheeler, Thomas, 185, 186
    • Whitmore, Kay, 80
    • Williams, Evan, 149
    • Winkler, M. J., 44
    • Winklevoss, Cameron and Tyler, 194195
    • Wolfe, Tom, 209
    • Wozniak, Steve, 4751
    • Yan, Ho-don, 70
    • Young, W. R., 6
    • Yu, Fu Lai, 70
    • Zell, Sam, 210
    • Zennström, Niklas, 147
    • Zuckerberg, Mark, 24, 40, 165, 193195, 198201, 203, 229

    Organization Index

    • Loading...
Back to Top

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website