Content, the once and future king

A few years ago (or several hundred in internet time) there was a saying that “content was king”.

The phrase was used in discussions during the web 1.0 boom where to get market share more and more sites were using eye-candy rather than optimising the content (Boo.com is the poster child for this). I think history shows that indeed content was king.

A recurring theme of current commentators is that ‘collaboration is king’, google the phrase to find it popping up all over the place.

It’s a misleading phrase though, setting up collaboration in opposition to content (there is only one king!)  misses what is the most valuable aspect of collaboration; it produces better content. That’s certainly true about sites where the collaboration is the content – such as focused social networking sites like Ravelry, or  many wiki’s.

Which leads to looking at the collabaration process from the other side, not how many people are taking part, but how good is the content that it produces? We’ve got a decade’s worth of research that tell us how to assess how good content is, we should apply those techniques to collaboration sites and it will tell us how good the engagement / collaboration is. By that standard, I still say Ravelry is the social media site with all the answers.

The usual, rather sketchy, pop music analogy.

Collaborations between musicians seems to fall into two camps, amazing and terrible. As with websites it’s the outcome (the “content”) that defines how well the collaboration worked. This collaboration is, um, not likely to be an anybody’s list of easy listening favourites. (I did initially look for Bonnie Prince Billy’s brilliant collaboration with Shooglenifty, but its not on Youtube), so here’s Sonic Youth and Lydia lunch making a terrifying racket.

Update: for some reason the video isn’t working, here’s the URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abFsnnsa_6A

 

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