Content as a product

Really interesting piece on treating content as a product and what that means for scaled production, if there is such a thing:

“You can’t apply industrial-age economics to content production. Content doesn’t get cheaper as the volume goes up. Unlike Ford’s automobiles, the cost of quality content goes up with the volume because content production involves skilled labour and very few economies of scale. Plenty of organisations try to work around this hard fact using various forms of automation.”

The author’s point is that it’s a gamble to “churn content without a plan”:

“While automated tools can be useful, letting general trending topics or ill-chosen metrics replace a strong editorial strategy will drive the relevance of your content down. Licensed or crowd-sourced content will rarely be tailored for your audience’s needs, the tone of voice they are most accustomed to, etc. Every mismatch drives relevance down and reduces your chances of the gamble ever paying off.”

I’d further argue that, content-wise, in the age of social sharing and a meme a minute, tone and trust are everything.

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Old media vs. new debate redux

Some solid thoughts here about the advantages of digital-native media versus “old” media. Conclusion: It’s hard to adapt to the changing media landscape when you’re busy running your existing business…you know, the one that pays the bills. Because even significant gains in magazines’ digital circ means they’re up to a whopping 1 percent of total circ. Yes, 1 percent. Rather unbelievable, given how often the media talks about what’s next and the mythical untold opportunities for tablet reading and product/brand integration.

And that would be why “old” media companies need to focus on their core business.

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Swing back to editorial curation?

Perhaps the editor part is more wishful thinking than reality — there is certainly something to be said for humans make better automations in the future, too — but nonetheless I like the boldness of the prediction:

“But while algorithms once threatened to replace gatekeepers, online media will see a move back to the future: professional, human filters (the artists formerly known as editors) will play an integral role in the next web after all.”

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On bringing back “the Organization Man”

Great piece on whether it is time to bring back “the Organization Man”:

“In that model, which drove the US economy for most of the last century, employers made longer-term commitments to employees, where they invested in development to fill jobs, and where employees responded with commitments of their own in terms of performance. Jobs were filled internally with people prepared to do them, skill shortages were unknown, and employees were engaged with the needs of their employer.”

What we have been doing, focusing on “outside hiring to get skills,” isn’t really working in terms of loyalty or productivity. “Few employers are providing development opportunities. Why bother developing when we can get the skills on the outside? US large companies have been filling 66 percent of their vacancies from the outside, in contrast to a generation ago where 90 percent were filled from within.”

Lots of food for thought herein.

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