Thursday, July 21, 2005

Content Smorgasbord

What a wonderful time to be alive! There is more content than ever now available in a variety of formats.

News. Of course the content smorgasbord trend started with the Internet, although really the library was the predecessor, in fact most European nations do not have the public library resources that are often taken for granted in the US. With the Internet, information became free and consumable. News. All functions and items from newspapers and much more.

Audiofiles. Starting in 2004 or earlier, audio files from conferences, lectures and talks started to be available for free on the Internet, provided by IT Conversations, the Long Now Foundation and Xerox PARC.

Music. Music content has also been evolving quickly. The best service (note service not product as the current market delivery mechanism) this month seems to be YahooTunes, where for $5 a month, a vast collection of music is searchable and downloadable to computers and MP3 players. While not every artist and title is currently available, especially newer titles, there is a seemingly inexhaustible collection of music to absorb and enjoy. YahooTunes applies to copyrighted music; Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive project has already made a variety of older out-of-copyright audio and video content available.

Video. Video content is not quite there. Being "there" would be having all video content (from all countries) available in a searchable repository for on demand viewing. Tivo and other personal video recorder technologies have allowed significant advances in effecting content on demand; content viewing without commercials and time-shifted for convenience.

Books. The content of all printed matter and media is the subject of several projects including the Brewster Kahle Internet Archival project, Google's university library digitization project and other efforts to put the whole of human knowledge available and online. Also exemplar of information sharing is MIT making its undergraduate courses available for free on the Internet.

Content is becoming freer and more fungible. A content consumer's dream. Content is also becoming increasingly manipulatable, as there are more ways to mix, match and alter content and create new content. Some examples of content creating are blogs, podcasts and citizen media à la Dan Gillmor; note the BBC requesting and posting pictures and comments from bystanders minutes after the July 2005 London tube station bomb incidents. Creating content, aside from being fun, is a great way to satisfy those human urges to personalize, individualize and actualize...