Sunday, October 29, 2006

Putting a course on content together (1)

I pursued the subject of yesterday and especially the content side of the skills gap.

The education of new media has developed over the years. It started all with courses on HTML and director. The courses usually consisted of technical packages, with specialisations for interaction specialist, video and audio specialists. Some editorial departments in journalism, publishing and broadcasting started new media courses. Now with crossmedia coming up, interactive marketing and new media management do warrent a new course of its own.

But a special course on content I have not seen yet in colleges and universities (just prove me wrong!). As said in the blog yesterday, content as an educational subject is often confused a course writing for internet and is often combined in a course content and communication. But I would love to see a real in-depth course on content.

A fundamental concept of content is needed for such a course. A proper definition for content is hard. If you are a publisher you think about content mainly as text-oriented information, sometimes embellished with graphics and photographs. If you are in the audio-visual industry you think in terms of spoken, animated and video information as well as music. And in theatre content is a story told. With the digitalisation it meant that content whether it was text, audio and video became bits and bytes and could be copied and mixed at random without loosing quality.

So when online and CD-Rom were introduced the term electronic content sprang up, later followed by digital content. This last term just indicated that the content was digital; nothing more, nothing less. But then came the proliferation of terms by putting a prefix before the term content: e-content, m-content, i-content. In most cases the prefix is just fashionable indicating the technology like the m- of mobile.

But e-content is more than a fashionable term. In the book E-Content: Technologies and Perspectives for the European Market (Springer, 2004) the following definition of Andrea Buchholz and Ansgar Zerfass was used:
E-content is digital information delivered over network-based electronic devices, i.e. symbols that can be utilised and interpreted by human actors during communication processes, which allow them to share visions for user involvement and may change dynamically according to the user’s behaviour.
It is a subcategory both of digital and electronic content, marked by the involvement of a network, which leads to a consistent renewal of content (contrary to the fixed set of content stored on a carrier such as a CD-ROM, or on the content broadcast via TV and Radio. This constant renewal of content in tie with its dynamic change allow for a qualitative difference, thus making it E-Content.

This definition has quite some implications for a real content course. It goes deeper than only learning how to write for internet. But the definition has implications for the creativity, the value chain, the legal side, commerce, e-learning, scientific publishing.


Blog Posting Number: 551

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