Content is Queen

2010 July 20
by Dave

In the current environment of competing media delivery methods you often hear the truism that the owners of the content that people want have a huge amount of leverage over which digital distribution platform that users will adopt. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about enabling content creation as a method of economic develoment. A related thought has been increasingly crossing my mind. In these contexts we need to more carefully parse what we mean by content.

The traditional definition of content needs to be broken into two parts; the content framework and the context. This is important because there is an infinite, distributed value creation feedback loop on the cusp of emerging.

Most consumers of media develop a preferred set of content frameworks that they will spend their time and money on given the opportunity. Video game players will have a favorite type of game that will have consistently similar game mechanics. Readers will have a favorite sub-genre that exhibits recurring plot arcs to the extent that if you were to outline the ten most recent books that a voracious reader has consumed they will appear nearly identical.

Digital distribution has enabled the long tail of media to finally generate significant revenue. The weak spot is that consumers who have found the niche content that scratches their deepest itch can quickly exhaust the content on offer in their niche of choice.

I have an infinite capacity for purchasing video games that my wife says are exactly the same as the last game I bought. She has an equally bottomless appetite for books that appear identical to me. The limiting factor in our purchases of structurally consistent content is the quantity of it that exists.

Thus, the easy value that is added by content creators is not the creation of new content frameworks, but the creation of new contexts to wrap around existing skeletons. This is easily demonstrated by the music business. Commercially successful bands don’t create new musical genres. They create sounds that are iterations of an existing genre that are unique enough to be differentiated from other offerings but are familiar enough to suck in current fans of that type of music.

The future of lucrative content creation is in the discovery of under served content frameworks and the provisioning of them with a depth of recontextualized offerings.

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