SpaceX made history tonight, landing the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket. A rocket that continued on to deliver 11 satellites to space. This is a revolution for the future of spaceflight. Those who know me, know I was glued to the webcast wishing I was either at SpaceX headquarters or in Florida watching the launch.
Without underplaying this moment, there was a bit more of a subtler moment. It was another history making moment, though slightly less so in my opinion. But it was still important. And its reverberations will be felt for some time, though without the boom of the rocket landing.
This other moment was the media choice made by SpaceX. They didn’t choose to broadcast this moment on NBC or CNN. The broadcast it themselves. Twitter was a better source than most news outlets. And the host wasn’t a well known newscaster, but a web personality. Tim Urban, writer and creator for the content site waitbutwhy.com was the lucky one (I’d have given anything to be in his shoes).
The reason this is significant is since it highlights a growing trend for how media is consumed. This is related to the growing influence of YouTube channels, like my own. TV and newspapers used to hold sway over vast amounts of the publics attention, but this is changing. This is for the better, since in the SpaceX broadcast you had engineers talking about just what was going on. Moreover, Tim Urban seemed to know a thing or two about space, unlike what is typically doled out but better known but less qualified mainstream media personalities.
Just look at the Variety interview with Elon Musk a few months ago. In that interview, ironically a mainstream outlets attempt to stay relevant in th age of YouTube and Social Media, the interviewer was repeatedly stumped by what Elon said. He even repeatedly claimed ignorance of anything too technical and almost seemed to wear it as a badge of honour.
Both the landing and Tim Urban hosting the webcast are significant moments for very different reasons. Both have me dreaming of a bright future tonight. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.