Content will be More Important than its Container

PressThink writes on one of the most important ideas of 2004 in journalism:

Content is an analytic term. It refers to the “stuff” media carry rather than the carriage system itself. We need a term like that. It’s not a leveler; it’s just neutral. I think what smart people mean when they “hate” the word content is they hate thinking about things in that way. We should talk about literature– not content.

It was another important thing said by Tom Curley, CEO of the Associated Press, in his big speech this year to the Online News Association: “Content will be more important than its container” in the next phase of Web development. “That’s a big shift for old media to come to grips with,” Curley added. “Killer apps, such as search, RSS and video-capture software such as Tivo — to name just a few — have begun to unlock content from any vessel we try to put it in.”

The means are there to unlock content from any vessel we try to put it in. Those vessels are the big media brands themselves, including the flagships of the press fleet. Here’s Admiral Curley telling them that news is becoming unhinged from “brand,” and so we who make news content have to re-locate where we brand it, and think about adding our voice at every step.

“Content will be more important than its container” is thus a disruptive idea in journalism. In a way it is similar to that cross-platform battle-cry in the software biz: write once, run anywhere.

Philosopher CEO

Knowledge@Wharton writes:

Technology is no longer an exclusive focus of companies like IBM or Microsoft. Instead, technology is also on its way to becoming the core asset of consumer goods companies like Wal-Mart and, in fact, of any company, says Gideon Tolkowsky, principal of BME Capital. But this brings us to a metaphysical question: What is the meaning of technology? For example, a personal computer can be regarded as a communication tool by a business executive, as an educational tool by a teacher and as a toy by a child. Different meanings to a given technology can co-exist, or replace one another sequentially. As more companies operate in a global environment, they will need to do more than simply ask whether the technological state-of-the art enables the development of a given product. They will instead have to consider what the technology means to each segment of the market and accordingly, how to position the technology-based product.

He adds that although its a given that technological assets can determine the progress of an individual, a company or even a nation, the decision to embrace or to reject technology is itself deeply affected by abstract ideas that are embedded in an individuals (or a nations) general life philosophy.

The field of the philosophy of technology is relatively young, says Tolkowsky. It was founded on the stipulation that technological change is a driver of historical processes, but newer theories challenged this deterministic approach and advocated a reverse direction of the causal arrow, namely — that it is social change that triggers technological innovation.