Digital Content Done Right
I just finished reading Nimble, a Razorfish report that discusses how content needs to be modified when transferred from traditional to digital media. Essentially (as you might have already guessed), the report hammers home the point that in order to succeed, content needs to be free! Free, as in libre - it must have the freedom and liberty to go where and when people want it the most, to be mobile and social, and be able to adapt quickly to the new challenges and opportunities in today's media landscape.
Digital content has the ability to become truly nimble for one major reason: it is not confined by the same physical restrictions that are placed on traditional media. It does not have to be forcefit into a column space, or magazine page, or television time slot. Digital media's capacity to expand, grow, and be editable make it uniquely able to provide consumers with digital experiences that traditional media cannot carry.
For content to be free, it has to be flexible enough to function across all digital platforms without losing any aspect of the experience. The ability to reuse digital content increases its shelf life, and value to the brand.
"Ironically, it's more structure that makes content nimble and sets it free."
Giving structure to digital content (through metadata) is what allows it to be broken down into its elements and recombined to reach across the web, create dynamic relationships, and exist smoothly across any number of devices, without losing it's ability to entertain, inform, or educate. However, digital content should not be structured according to how it will look on a newspaper page, but according to tags that express the meaning and function of each element in a content item.
The report highlights a fundamental errors that many publishers make with online content: they continue to treat it as if it is traditional published content. Very few editors are giving thought to how to structure content so that it is free to mix, mingle and connected throughout the web to create a rich, unique experience for the consumer. The report recommends that all publishers 'Become a content distributor' - developing content products for individual platforms and keeping the 'unique modes of interaction' and 'optimal types of experience' top of mind for each one.
"In a highly connected world, content that's trapped in a silo is basically invisible. And invisible content might as well not exist."