The Edison Project is a multi-year collaborative applied research and executive education initiative focused on anticipating and creating ways to take advantage of new trends and disruptions in the Media and Entertainment industry.

Through the Edison Project, the Lab posits a transition from an Information Economy to an Imagination Economy, creating a vision for a new M&E ecosystem and working with a range of strategic partners to accelerate its arrival.

Why Now?

The media and entertainment business is in turmoil. Revenues are struggling to outpace inflation, production and marketing costs are skyrocketing, the Hollywood blockbuster model is collapsing, broadcast TV is dying – everything from news to games to music to publishing is in the midst of massive change.

However, what most perceive as signposts of disaster are really signposts of opportunity. The Information Economy is being replaced by a new Imagination Economy: a new global boom in which the rise of ubiquitous, natural, and affordable technology, the rise of participatory culture and the new “maker” movement, the rise of a global broadband distribution platform with 5 billion users by 2016, and the rise of a rapidly growing global middle class converge to reshape the media and entertainment industries – and quite possibly every other industry as well.

The Edison Project is exploring how the new creators and makers, the new screens, the new metrics and measurement, the new funding and business models, and the new public spaces are all combining into a new ecosystem – and how media and entertainment companies can reorient themselves to flourish in this emerging Imagination Economy.

Five Research Pillars

  • The New Screens
    Print, music, and video have all been hugely disrupted by digital media - but now digital media is undergoing its own vast disruption: desktops have yielded to laptops, laptops are yielding to mobile devices, and soon they too will yield to a mix of wearables, smart objects, smart homes and smart cities. So what happens when these new screens become the "new new media"? How do we communicate using not just the newest versions and combinations of video, music, text, comics and games, but with virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printers, the Internet of Things, and the increasingly-connected, increasingly-intelligent world around us? The lab's Fall 2013 Think & Do: Re-Envisioning the Home TV Experience was its first on The New Screens. The lab's prototypes for The New Screens, which came out of that Think & Do event, include Augmenting Accessibility, Augmented Storytelling, Tangible Storytelling, and 360-Degree Storytelling
  • The New Creators + Makers
    The digital revolution supposedly provided the tools to create and distribute almost anything to almost anyone. However, those "almosts" were huge. Now, sufficiently high-speed Internet connectivity is finally coming to rural areas and third world countries, a new generation of distribution platforms are creating sustainable business models for even the most hyper-niche content and radically changing the relationships between audiences and creators, and makerspaces are bringing hardware prototyping and manufacturing capabilities to a vast range of nanocompanies and startups. So who are the new creators and makers in this new media ecosystem? How will they compete and collaborate with the established "traditional" media giants? What do they need to succeed? The lab's spring 2015 Think & Do will be its first on The New Creators + Makers. The lab's prototypes on The New Creators + Makers include Athena News.
  • The New Funding + Business Models
    Is it still possible to get rich in the new media ecosystem? Is it even possible to break even? Of course it is - but it often requires a change in how you do business. What are the new ways that value is developed, derived, and shared, and how are new technologies and behaviors making those possible? How will the emergence of billions of smartphones around the world change the business models for content and advertising? How will new curation and recommendation engines allow deep catalog and hyper-niche content to reach and monetize their audiences? The lab's spring 2014 Think & Do: Business Models in an All-Mobile Environment was its first on The New Funding + Business Models. 
  • The New Metrics + Measurement
    Most business models in the media and entertainment industry require an assignment of value to the content and/or the audience, which requires some system of metrics and measurement. However, traditional methods are rapidly falling behind. What new systems might be required to measure success in the new media and entertainment ecosystem? How might those measurements be compared across disparate media? How might big data or biometrics be used to measure engagement? The lab's fall 2014 Think & Do will be its first on The New Metrics + Measurement. The lab's prototypes on The New Metrics + Measurement include the Sports Media & Fan Entertainment Engagement Strategy.
  • The New Public Spaces
    As the world grows increasingly intelligent and connected, the value of the "public" also becomes both amplified and problematic. How will technology be installed in public spaces to help narrow the digital divide and the participation gap? Who will determine who has "read/write access" to the augmented reality spaces that are directly overlaid onto real-world spaces? What percentage of the wireless spectrum should be reserved for public use? Should private companies be allowed to seek legislation that prevents other, more civically-minded companies from competing directly in the marketplace? The lab's fall 2015 Think & Do will be its first on The New Public Spaces. The lab's prototypes for The New Public Spaces include PulsePin.