Rook Takes Content
October 10, 2006 1 Comment
A few years ago the web’s mantra was: “Content is King”. This really was true. The recent big successes of the web are falling into two categories:
- Providing users ways to publish their content
- Providing ways to search through the mountains of content on the web
- Providing ways to search through the mountains of user-generated content (buzzword alert!)
Providing mountains of 2nd or 3rd party content. Nobody’s really thrived off of this model, at least in a profitable way. Wikipedia is pure anarchy and is not for profit.
I can already hear the dialog between my fictional characters John and Charlie:
Charlie: We gotta have content for our sites! This content stuff will make us a bunch of money! Give me content!
John: Uh, how? That requires people and creativity and something actually that adds value.
Charlie: I don’t know! Make it happen!
John: So we’re in a race to generate the most individual pages of content for impressions for those advertisements. 750,000 pages here, 20,000 pages there… no problem. It will take a little bit of time. I like widgets. Everyone likes widgets. Let’s do a site about widgets.
Charlie: Oh, hey! I know! Let’s BUY some content! I know where we can get a list of people who sell widgets and we need to register widgetsearch.com! Slap a search form on it, make a page for each widget store, play with mod_rewrite and let’s go!
John [reluctanctly]: Hmm, ok.
Charlie: Whoa. That content was too expensive and we’re still not making enough money to justify the hosting costs! We’ll be better off if we just steal some. Well… it’s not really stealing is it? I mean, the person putting 100% of the work into publishing the content on the web doesn’t care if I profit somehow from their work. Yeah, I’ll just steal it. En masse. WidgetSearch.com 2.0!
Charlie: Even better- let’s start stealing the user-generated content (aka pure fucking GOLD) and call it our own. Just hit technorati and find all the items tagged Widgets, then just yank the RSS feed! WidgetSearch.com 2.0 Beta!
John: Hey. Ya think we should just make a site about widgets, why we’re interested in them, and the ones we like?
Charlie: That’d be too hard! It’d take too much work!
John: It’s worked for other people. And Charlie, it’d be a lot more enjoyable than all of the work we’ve put into WidgetSearch.com. Think if we put all of the energies we put into WidgetSearch.com into something we actually cared about? We’d have an amazing site.
One of my favorite bloggers, Greg Storey, wrote about the diedown in creativity among bloggers and I think it reaches a little farther past bloggers and go for a lot of other parts of the web. Making a fortune isn’t as easy as running DTS and querying a database. Content has lost humanity.
Without the human aspect, content is no longer king. Content is only king when it’s genuine, passionate, creative, and useful. Move over, content. I’m King now.