Lucille Ball began a renaissance when, after years of doing live, one-time performances, she had the idea to put television shows on film and syndicate them. With this, she also made Star Trek possible, a decision that allowed the series to be viewed by future generations and influence countless astronauts. Enter the innovation of the social networks – all of which hold our information, much like film has done for television – to be enjoyed and viewed ongoing. Except for Snapchat, where live, one-time happenings lead to the next live event and so on.
Recently, I was watching the History Channel documentary: 50 Years of Star Trek and learned that even though I have been a fan since I was 7 and had been watching almost nightly reruns of the TV series, I had Lucille Ball to thank for those reruns.
You see, back in 1950’s when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez shot I Love Lucy, it was filmed so that it could be shown in all markets (not just for those viewing it live in New York) and the production company produced such (now) iconic programs as The Dick Van Dyke Show and Mission: Impossible. These shows have lived on in syndication because of the foresight of Desilu productions. One specific show owes it enormous success and 50 year history of going where no one has gone before to the decision to produce the shows on film. The savvy actress-turned-television mogul believed in the show even though she was not a science fiction fan because there was nothing like it on air at the time. It was true science fiction with a diverse cast and intelligent scripts. In 1962, Lucille Ball became the first woman CEO of a major production company and in 1966 Star Trek went on the air.
Video, posts, or pins need to be preserved to show not only the past but pave the way for the future. Facebook, the number one social network, shows a scrolling historical record on user’s timelines and foresees adding artificial intelligence, increased connectivity worldwide and augmented reality to the network. Twitter defines trending topics, created the use of hashtags and makes you distill your thoughts into 140 characters. YouTube made the world accessible through videos for training, podcasts, interviews and television programs. Pinterest is described by its founder as a “category of ideas” that quickly began influencing how photos could be saved, sorted and managed. All content is saved and can be referenced later or revised and re-shared like “Your Memories on Facebook.” Much like filming an episode of Star Trek and having it available for future generations, even allowing you to own the episodes in digital format. Disruptors think of the future.
Enter Snapchat which is more like the early days of television where all the shows ran once live never to be seen again. Yes, there are Stories and Memories but once sent, the ephemeral content disappears like live series in the early days of television. This social network is third only behind Facebook and Instagram among Millennials for its instant and short-lived snaps. Snapchat qualifies as an influencer because it provides photos and videos (like Instagram) but the media vanishes in 24 hours or upon reading. So far there is nothing like Snapchat and that makes it interesting.
Lucille Ball showed great foresight in syndicating episodic television which would play a huge role in the future of the first social medium (Nielson voting and ratings, darling!). Star Trek was an influencer in 1966 because it was innovative; it inspired future generations to dream of going into space. Social Media has been a disruptor in the sense that it put the “public” in public relations and each new form of media moves social networking forward. All I’m saying is that by keeping a record of our history, we can save the memories and stories of our creative innovations in the present for the future.
Thank you, Lucille Ball for believing. And Happy 50th Birthday to Star Trek!