Friday, January 11, 2008

Crossmedia described

Yesterday the Faculty of Journalism and Communication of HU College in Utrecht officially installed its new lecturer Cross-media Content. As is the habit with an installation, the new lecturer makes his inaugural presentation, basically telling the audience what the new research domain is, its value creation and the plans for research. The spoken text of presentation is usually recorded in print, but in this case Harry van Vliet (also a researcher with the Telematics Institute) produced a book of 104 pages (it is a pity, but the text is in Dutch).

Of course it was interesting to see whether Harry van Vliet would attempt to present a definition of cross-media. His spoken text was a short summary of his chapter on the nature of cross-media. And it was an interesting summary. As could be expected from a lecturer Cross-media Content, he did not get stuck in distribution. He dug deeper and stressed three aspects of the nature of cross-media.

A typical aspect of cross-media is that the content is offered more times over various channels. Having said so, what is the mutual relationship? Harry van Vliet distinguished three types: iconic, indexical and symbolic. The first type, iconic, refers to for example a commercial on television and on internet as a banner. Content, distributed over more than one channel, shows a resemblance. In the second type, indexical, the content distributed over various channels has a reference function: a reference in the newspaper to a TV program or to a website. The third type, symbolic, supersedes the individual expressions and calls for, conveys or creates a value or for example a virtual holiday experience.

The second aspect is the use of various channels for content. And as various channels have various characteristics, the content should fit the characteristics. Content for mobile needs to have a snack character (small portions to fill the stomach), as mobile is only used during the lost ten minutes in the train or bus during transfer. So the content should be analysed on characteristics per channel.

A third aspect is the aspect of interactivity. This aspect is best illustrated with cross-media services originating from the television scene using the interactivity of internet in Interactive TV or vice versa, when a multimedia experience with video gets a TV quality.

It is clear from the presentation that there is no dominance of distribution in cross-media content. The whole value chain is affected from creativity, packaging, distribution, presentation and consumption. And the cross-media value chain is not linear, but becomes a circle or a value network with response mechanism. Content becomes a semi finished product, ready for re-use or enrichment (e.g. by blogs), finding its way to the next consumer.

Harry van Vliet goes beyond a working definition of cross-media content and produces a description: Cross-media content concerns the iconic, indexical and symbolic relationships of content, whereby this content (created, packaged, distributed and presented for and via platforms and channels with specific characteristics) represents a particular value and by the users is (re)used for socio-economic and/or psychological motives. Van Vliet considers that his task exists of researching the mutual relationships of content, the channels, the value chain, values and the experiences of users, the findings of which will be translated into cross-media strategies, products and services for organisations, citizens and consumers.

Blog Posting Number: 974


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