Every media business is built around at least one of three key content activities: creation of content, curation of content, and compilation of data into content. Many media businesses, especially the large ones, make all three of these activities core competencies. Which sounds most like your business?
Creation of Content
This is what most people think of when they think about media: writing articles or features, shooting video, recording audio. In the Internet world it also includes blogging, micro-blogging, and podcasting. The creation (and publication) of original content is often a major focus (and a major expense) for media businesses, both traditional and digital, but it’s only one piece of a larger value proposition.
Curation of Content
A curator’s job is to select, organize, and care for the items in a collection. The title has usually been applied to museum conservators and librarians. In the Information Age, we can all become librarians. In fact, in this age of information overload, the service of selecting and organizing collections of information is more valuable than it ever was.
Like creation, curation of content is not new to digital media. Newspapers have always filled their pages with articles acquired from other sources, and broadcasters likewise fill out their schedules with syndicated content. Complex business relationships have grown up around these practices, and that’s a big part of the disruption the Internet is causing. Digital media enables more efficient curation capabilities and new kinds of syndication relationships. The successful digital media business will use the Internet, software, and human ingenuity to become the best information filter for its audience.
Compilation of Data as Content
Before the Internet, compilation and publication of large data sets was the job of specialty publishers, and except for the once ubiquitous phone book and the ever useful roadmap, such publications were expensive and difficult to acquire. In the new digital media, compiling data sets into content and distributing access to the data has become relatively inexpensive. Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo now give away access to map data and satellite imagery (and see OpenStreetMap for a project that is making map data truly free).
One of the goals of journalists has been not just to deliver the data, but to help people make sense of data and statistics. New digital media tools enable you to collect, query, and visualize data in ways that would have been impossible, or at least prohibitively expensive, just a few years ago. This area represents perhaps the greatest opportunity for Internet-savvy entrepreneurs to leap-frog traditional media. Don’t know where to start? Take a look at Data.gov for a huge collection of public domain data waiting to be sifted and visualized.
How Does Your Digital Media Garden Grow?
Does your digital media business focus on one of these three areas, or dabble in all three? I would be interested to hear about (and share) what tools you are using in each of these areas. Personally, I’m dissatisfied with the curation tools I have tried so far, and for me compilation of data has meant custom programming (I’m a web developer by trade).