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Sunny San Diego graffitiIt’s not easy to pinpoint the origin of content but we can be sure mankind has been producing it since time immemorial. Cave paintings, for instance, are content. As humanity has developed so has content and there’s more of it around today than ever before. Everywhere you look you’ll find it. Even a humble box of matches has content and I don’t mean the little fire sticks inside the box. There’s a label on the front of the box, often featuring artwork or a photograph. The box usually has some words too. This may be in the form of a stanza or poem, although often it’s just the basic brand name and a declaration of the number of matches inside. While the quality and quantity of the words and picture found on a matchbox may vary, it still qualifies as content. This is just one example, look around and you’ll find content almost everywhere.

The expression “content is king” is a well-worn phrase and some commentators are even ready to declare the death of the king. I disagree with the assertion of the demise of content. I’ll even go as far as saying you simply can’t kill this king. Media has changed radically over the last two decades with the introduction of the Internet but content hasn’t died. Many are also predicting the end of paid journalism. I don’t subscribe to the view that journalism is dead, it’s merely evolving again. With this latest evolution it seems the production of content has gone into overdrive and far more content is being produced by those who don’t get paid for producing it. Blogs, social media updates and forum submissions – it’s all content and there’s lots of it about.

I believe we are on the brink of another revolution in the production of content, one driven by the ever-increasing use of social media. Blogging is a potential growth area. Personal blogs are one aspect of this expansion but perhaps, more significant to those hoping to earn a living from content, is the rise of corporate blogging. Slowly, but increasingly surely, business is waking up to the power of the blog. We’re moving away from the age of static websites. They simply don’t work anymore and it’s debatable that they ever did. People are not going to continue to visit a website that never changes and a blog is the perfect way to ensure the continued delivery of fresh content. This continuous content flow is not just good for getting and retaining visitors to a website, it’s also a great way to increase your exposure to search engines which favour new content over old.

Another area pushing the growth in content production is social media. Everything that is posted in the world of social media is content. It not only creates content but also helps to spread it because Social media promotes sharing and collaboration. It’s an extremely significant development in the long story of our creation of content. The rise of social media will one day be seen as influential in the history of content as the invention of the printing press.

What effect is the ever-increasing production of content having, especially of that which is made freely available? There are many who decry the advance of free content. They suggest that it threatens the very model of paid-for content that has kept many in work, and made a few very rich, for over one hundred years. However, there are also those who can see a way that even free content can be leveraged to produce revenue. If free content is of sufficient quality to attract readers, then various methods such as advertising, merchandising and affiliate deals can be utilised to turn the content into cash.

This brings us neatly to the concept of content curation. What is content curation and how is it different from content creation? The answer is simple. Content creation is the process of producing new content. This content comes in many forms including text, video, art, photography, sound recording and much more. Content curation is the process of finding and selecting content for use in a variety of media, including websites. The role of a content curator is not a new one, we used to call these people editors. However the job, the methods and sources have evolved and will likely continue to do so. The availability of huge amounts of content makes the act of curation on one hand easier and yet on the other harder. Easier since there’s a lot of choice because there’s plenty of high quality content available. Harder because the very quantity of content means there’s so much poor quality stuff that needs to be sifted through so you can find the gems. The key skills of the good content curator include the ability to find, recognise and filter the best of all of this content from the worst.

This article only touches on the subject of content. It’s such a complex and variegated subject that one could produce an entire book on the past, present and future of content. One thing I am sure of is that the future of content is bright so please don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Content is still a king and it is not dead. Long live the king!

About the author:

Glenn left school at 16 and spent two years with Barclays Bank, followed by two years with IBM as a computer operator. He left IBM and for 10 years he enjoyed life as a successful fine artist. Glenn then went dispatch riding, a strange choice maybe but one forced upon him after a bike accident damaged his right wrist. After a few years risking life and limb on the road, Glenn chanced into a successful fifteen-year stint in motorcycle travel and sport as a writer and photographer. Glenn started his career as a journalist just before the dawn of the internet age. The arrival of the internet changed journalism completely but Glenn adapted quickly and contributed to websites around the world from the very early days of the web.

Glenn is very keen on Twitter. This simple little app is a like a sword, it may not look much but if you wield it properly it could change the world. Glenn still contributes content for websites as a busy freelance writer, but nowadays he also tweets for clients and advises companies on their use of Twitter.

Creative Commons License photo credit: AForestFrolic

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