content begets data begets bland
A billion people died on the news tonight
But not so many cried at the terrible sight
Well mama said
It’s just make believe
You can’t believe everything you see
So baby close your eyes to the lullabies
On the news tonight
Many in the business still distinguish between long-form and short form content; between ads, advertorial, editorial and content; and between scheduled, non-linear and live. There are differences. However on a few levels I would suggest that they have become the same, specifically intent and technology.
From a technology perspective, the argument is quite simple, and yet with extremely profound implications. It’s all bits. Simple? Not quite so. The moment that every piece of content becomes a bit, a mysterious transformations occurs… Those bits become data. As such several things emerge:
- You need data to describe data – metadata. If that is used effectively, then you can automate much of your process and scale incredibly.
- With that data, you can automate how that content is consumed, and to whom it is directed.
- Data, if used correctly, can provide information, which, if used correctly, can get you even smarter about how to use your content (data). Recursive.
- Better get yourself a search engine. Indexed databases are just not enough – there’s a lot of unstructured stuff you need to now catalog.
- Better connect to other data sources, because you cannot possibly type in all of the stuff you’ll need to manage this content going forward. Data begets data.
- Content becomes less sensitive to its actual ‘content’, the differentiation between mediums blurs, and not longer matters (read Negroponte’s seminal ‘Being Digital’). The consumer’s client drives presentation.
- Business and workflows necessarily change – this is not optional. Managing content is different – no discussion. Sorry video guys, face the change.
All of this brings me to my second point. As content becomes data, and data begets more data, it starts to become very abstract, almost ethereal. Add a piece of automation, throw in some analytics and before long you lose intimate knowledge of your content library and the look’n’feel of your medium. Strange things start to happen… content becomes its own entity. Attach some monetization to the process and you risk getting a very ‘corporate’ media complete with formulaic template radio channels, stock cable channels and bland programming. All of a sudden sterile data, drives correspondingly sterile intent. If that intent is just maximizing revenue and optimizing resources for which media computer systems are designed, you get “News is something someone wants suppressed. Everything else is just advertising.” – Alfred Harmsworth (Lord Northcliff), publisher, Times of London.
Ask yourself, what is the intent of your media business? You may be surpised at the answer. The more digital your business becomes, the stranger the answer will become.
Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.