This past weekend I attended a conference called The NarrativeArc at Boston University. The focus was on narrative nonfiction, helpful for a writer who wants to tell a story rather than impress a reader with facts.
Loved the experience.
Media critic and Professor at Columbia Journalism School Dean Starkman, one of the speakers, said at his morning session: “The mass market is dead. It is now a market of niches.”
The idea of “niches” refers to today’s social media like Twitter. Facebook, and LinkedIn which provide interaction with individuals. Blasting a message to a mass audience in print or broadcast is a thing of the past.
That made me think of a pivotal period in the seed and plant industry in this country: the 1890s.
I had been reading about the emergence of mass culture at the end of the nineteenth century. The invention of new communication technologies made it possible to print for a mass audience. Newspapers, magazines, and, of course, garden catalogs, like Burpee’s [above], were printed in the hundreds of thousands for a national market.
That had never happened before, though we had books, newspapers, and magazines. It was the ability for the first time to reach a mass audience that made that period a pivotal time.
Businesses used that technology to create a mass market.
American gardening would never be the same, because after that companies like seed firms and nurseries sought to attract a national market with their products. Gardeners had more choices for plants, garden accessories, and anything else garden-related than ever before.
The world of the gardener had changed forever.
That is, until social media came along.