Friday, May 4, 2007

Content Essentials



To be able to manage content successfully, it is essential to understand the nature of content. And, not the least, what content is.

1. Everything is Content
Everything that is intended to communicate something is content (text, numbers, pictures, sound, video). Content is what is contained within a web page, document, graphic file or a record in a database. Content is not to be confused with the media that carries it, the paper that the text is printed on, or the web page that presents it. Content is the encoded message, the contents of a book, document or mp3 file. The book or file is simply a container. The same content can be re-purposed and/or reused and put in different containers.

2. Information Exists Only in Your Head
Content can inform and create experiences for the content consumer. Information is something that exists only in the consumer’s mind, a result of cognitive processes. This insight makes it natural to think about who the consumer is or might be when producing content.

3. Data is Content With Little Context
Data is nothing else than content that has been structured so hard that it has very little context. Highly structured content needs to aggregated and packaged to content products, content that is assembled and enriched with context in a way that it can be easily consumed by its intended consumers.

4. Context is King
Context is what surrounds the content, helping the content consumer to understand what the content is about, who created it, what its intended use is, and so on. Content that is used to describe other content is commonly called metadata. The metadata enriches the content with descriptions that put the content in a context and makes it easier to understand and use for the content consumer. Context is king, an absolute necessity for communication to be successful.

2 comments:

  1. Oscar, this post (with the added nerdosity) is why people today are still attracted to ancient languages like Lisp: the code-is-data (code is content!) paradigm runs strong there.

    Hat tip to the amazing RLisp: A Lisp that runs in Ruby. Or, a Ruby with macros. http://t-a-w.blogspot.com/

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  2. Also: Lisp keeps the tree structure of its eval'ed code, where other languages mostly does the equivalent of MS WORD HTML tag soup: just strings.

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