12 Steps to Immersion in a Topic of Interest

I've been thinking lately about how to get the students I mentor to really dive head first into their interests.  Schools don't really teach students the degree to which they need to fully research and follow a topic enough to form opinions, discover opportunities, etc.  In other words...  how to throw gas on the fire in their bellies.   Here's a 12 step list that I think can be helpful to fill out and follow:

We'll use digital media as an example.

  1. Define.  We're talking television, radio, music, movies, etc. and all of the screens and speakers it can wind up on.
  2. Follow the money.  Creative people are paid to produce by publishers who pay distributors to send the content to consumers, who either pay directly for it or are subsidized by advertisers.  (Oversimplified and changing of course, but its a start...)
  3. Stakeholders.  Who's involved?  Creatives, consumers, publishers, advertisers, distributors (channels, stations), big media, new media, investors, analysts, researchers, academics, the government.
  4. Mainstream media.  Read the newspaper.  Watch the news.  Read books on this topic.  What's your digitial media reading list look like for MSM?
  5. User generated content.  Read blogs: Paid Content, Rebuilding Media, etc.  Message boards, listservs.  Make a list of the places you can get insider and alternative info.
  6. Participate.  Comment.  E-mail.  Share your thoughts with smart people and listen to them.  Go to conferences and speaking engagements.
  7. Record. Keep a blog about following digital media, what you're learning and what you think about it.
  8. Network.  Join LinkedIn.  Write a bio.  Invite people you know and search it.  Do some informational interviews and stay in touch with the people willing to share time with you.  Keep these people in a PDA, Outlook, wherever you keep contacts and a calendar to remind yourself how often you want to talk to people.
  9. Visit.  Don't just sit at your computer.  Try to visit some companies in the space or other repositories of knowledge on the topic in person.
  10. Associate.  Join a professional society or social networking group related to digital media.  (Like nextNY of course!)
  11. Know the issues.  Look into DRM, privacy, the disaggregation and reaggregation of content.  New business models and Exploding TV.
  12. Experience.  Seek out a job or project in this space.  Use Indeed!