The third axis of media beyond content and container is conversation.
This truly is new to media. Media wasn't distributed before the internet. Now it is. Enter new messengers: citizens. Media wasn't two-way before the internet. Now it is. Enter new modes: conversation.
It matters whether a message comes from a journalist who's trying to act objective... or a journalist who's being transparent about his or her perspective... or a partisan involved in the story... or someone in power... or a citizen (whom we used to call, in a centralized, one-way world a reader, viewer, user, consumer). The messenger matters.
And it doesn't matter, really, whether the message comes in print or video or online or HTML or RSS or MP3. But it does matter whether there is the opportunity for back-and-forth and questioning and addition and improvement. The conversation matters.
Last week, I went to three conferences (ouch): Ad:Tech (about online advertising), Foursquare (filled with top media execs and money people... and, no, I don't know how I got in either), and that meeting in Washington that was kind of about new media.
What struck me about all three is that they're getting there but they don't understand that third and new axis of media: the messenger.
They don't fully understand how distributed media is quickly becoming and how the old centralized marketplaces are becoming outmoded and what that is doing to all their businesses: Media companies are being challenged by their customers. Delivery companies are being challenged by a world of open standards and open source. Marketers are being challenged by their customers, too.
They don't understand how to engage in the conversation, how to go two-way: how to switch from DC to AC.
They don't understand that they're not in control now. That's what it's all about: Control. And given half a chance, your customers/consumers/readers/viewers/listeners/users/students/constituents/voters will always take control.