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Out here in the real world, I want the address, a map and directions as well, ideally from a GPS because I'd rather do my serendipitous exploring without the stress of getting lost and being late. In the digital world, I don't want directions: I want the address for the content I'm after. Show me, don't tell me. If there's a two-minute section in a video that covers what I want, I don't want all 93 minutes and the instruction to fast-forward 47 minutes and 15 seconds. I want the computer to do the scut work. If there's an event, I don't want to get sent to your calendar with instructions to scroll forward to March 20th, I want to go straight to the page. Don't point me at three weeks worth of discussions about the next project, link straight to the message where everyone agrees on the project spec. If I find what I want quickly then I'll have time to browse around and enjoy serendipity, but don't make me go through a maze if I don't want to.

To be able to give a user the address of the exact information they want means breaking down monolithic content like video streams and calendars and forum threads. And that means thinking about how things are indexed, and they they're presented. When Blinkx finds a video that matches what you're searching for it could send an offset to start the video playing at the right point - but content owners don't like that because they've put the ads that pay for their service at the beginning of the video. Too many groupware systems give you a link for the calendar, not a link for individual days or events in the calendar. And if a link to a forum comes up in a search you'll usually find yourself at the first post in the thread rather than the relevant post - the whole thread has been indexed rather than the individual posts.

What's the logical addressable unit of content? It's going to vary depending on the content type, but as a consumer I'm going to want more granularity than the producer expects. Often, there's a fragment of information that's exciting or interesting that I want to share rather than pointing someone at a whole work; I'm hoping they'll find the whole thing interesting, but it's the snippet I think will catch them. The smart content provider will see value in letting me push people to the interesting bit in the hope they'll want to see more rather than forcing people to sit through all of it. Addressability might look like losing control - actually it's giving both publisher and visitor finer grained control.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
a_cubed
8th Feb, 2006 12:40 (UTC)
Control versus Utility
This is all about who controls what information we take in. This is closely linked to the concept of copyright and IP ownership. Forget profit, what it's actually about is control. Sometimes profit is dependent on control, sometimes it isn't. Yet even where it's clear that less control leads to greater profit, there are those who still attempt to exert control - consider the take-down notices for trademark violation against fan sites promoting TV shows. Consider the difference in attitudes between Japanese manga publisher with regards to Dojinshi and US-based publishers with regards to fan fiction.

Far too many people in charge of organisations which place content online are still addicted to the control that one-to-many broadcasting gave them. Why do the BBC insist on making it very difficult for users to download the video clips they make freely available. Do you know how much money they want for allowing you to include a twenty second clip of yourself appearing on a news programme on your own web site? Here's a quote from the BBC on my request to get the segment of BBC Scotland's Newsnight coverage of Interaction, including an interview with me:

"Depending what the actual footage is and providing there are not restriction on it the licence fee to put BBC material on a web page would be £300.00 per 20 second clip plus VAT @17.5%"

The BBC do not make these programmes available online with or without fee/subscription (they may make them available for huge amounts to research companies) and they certainly aren't making any money of selling DVDs of such things, so what on earth is the cost for?

If I ever do manage to get onto the BBC's "pundit" list - I'm working on it - I'm planning to ask for a standard contract which includes permission to get a reasonable copy of the piece and permission to make it available online (properly indexed, of course, Mary) as part of the deal.

barrj11
10th May, 2007 08:10 (UTC)
“The smart content provider will see value in letting me push people to the interesting bit in the hope they'll want to see more rather than forcing people to sit through all of it. Addressability might look like losing control - actually it's giving both publisher and visitor finer grained control.”

VERY WELL SAID :)

If I may say so, I enjoy reading all your blogs. Keep up the good work!

Chirsten
www.findmypaydayloan.com



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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