(Some) buzzwords defined

A recent post explained the alphabet soup of XML and its value for publishers. This post expands that approach to a range of terms that are often used to explain the world in which XML-savvy publishers are operating.

The biggest difference: a shift in focus away from content in containers (books, magazines, journals, etc.) and toward intellectual property (IP). Content can and will still be published in those containers, but IP must be developed and maintained to support a range of other uses.

The first of those uses are cross-platform: similar content presented in print, online and to mobile and e-reading devices, all with (hopefully) little or no additional effort. Demand for cross-platform content, sometimes referred to as “repurposing”, is already a reality.

Content may also be aggregated, often with IP that a publisher controls. Typical applications may be a single-topic publication, an historical compilation or a collection of work by a single author. Content that is created in a flexible fashion (using XML) is more easily adapted for such uses. Content that is scraped or manually input using IP you don’t own is sometimes called aggregation, although that’s not the intended use here.

Syndicated content is not new, but the ability to provide content in standard formats gives publishers frictionless access to this revenue stream. Lowering the cost of providing the content makes it possible to test even smaller opportunities that may or may not grow over time.

Digital content is readily searchable, and even basic scans of printed books can be used to drive content-discovery services like Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book” (SITB). As search becomes more sophisticated, contextual or semantic search will grow in importance.

Content made up of many components that can stand on their own is considered “chunkable”. Novels would typically have few or no chunks, while reference, medical, Biblical and cookbooks could have many “chunks.”

Chunks support recombinant applications. Aggregation is a form of recombinant content. In an online environment, original and user-generated content may be combined to create entirely new works.

Structured (tagged) IP may be described as agile content (it’s less scary than saying XML, after all). Agile content supports as many downstream uses as make sense for a given publisher or body of IP.

Finally, growth of digital content has led to the development of a value chain that parallels the one in place for creation and distribution of physical product. This new value chain includes “DAPs, DADs, and DARs”.

Digital asset producers or providers (DAPs) are most often publishers, although increasingly authors and even individual readers (with user-generated content) can act as DAPs.

As outsourced services, digital asset distributors (DADs) can provide content management services, support multiple conversions in a standard way and offer publishers a perspective on industry trends. DADs typically charge for services provided, much as their physical counterparts do.

Digital asset recipients (DARs) include readers, as well as channel partners like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, who use publisher content to promote awareness, trial and ultimately purchased content.

And that’s the last thing I’ll say on buzzwords for a while.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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