Advanced Digital Content Ownership

Advanced digital content ownership is digital content that has been tagged to make it available for any current and future business reuse of any kind.

That means, as a publisher,they care about the value and revenue generation potential and capability of content; and that they are knowledgeable of the devices and format talk and dialogue in the marketplace in 2013. Is Apple or Amazon more important? Is HTML5 better than ePub3?

Formats of any kind are where content business deceases, even paper. Content is sold to a consumer, directly or through a channel. The business is over. Content dynamics is required to keep on selling that content. It may be more paper, it may be new and different digital content formats. The business strategy is no different to what has been done with Hardcover, Paperback and Mass-market print formats for the last 30 years. Extracting the fullest value from the content. It's just more complicated now because it never stops. (But the long-tail is an illusion for a lot of content).

Digital Content is Indeterminate

For any publisher who has their digital content in the right place, it shouldn't matter if the future is parchment, paper, ePub3, ePub Zero, Kindle, Apps, Web Apps or "pure" HTML5. Currently that is just 2013 "thought-leader" dialogues. It doesn't, or shouldn't, affect core digital content ownership strategies. For a publisher the format/channel noise should never be a troublesome issue. These are all just market deliverables.

It shouldn't matter if the "device d'jour" is iPad, Galaxy, Nexus, the desktop, a website or paper.

What has to matter is that your content is digitised in such a way that it is ready to deliver for the business value of today, and that your content is ready for an indefinite future.

The debates on digital book/publishing sites has become a directionless discussion . An example is the "Tools of Change" O'Reilly blog which is highly opinionated. Publishers should be cautious as they have substantial future ready digital content (and that includes print) strategies in place.

Content is Infinitely Complex

Content is infinitely complex. That is why every XML strategy ultimately declines. The designers cannot comprehend or foresee the complexity of any digital content model, so the "semantic XML" always dissolves into poorly spent funds within 24-36 months of any XML project starting up. There is no mystery, the exception is academic content where structure/semantics, while comprehensive is also consistent.

XML schemas become unnecessarily complex as they "develop", because they are trying to encompass infinite complexity in a finite container. The issue being that what worked for someones computer book will potentially not work for someone else's poetry.

The Answer

Interestingly and probably accidentally, the world created the answer years ago. HTML. This is important because HTML encapsulates structure first and semantics goes along for a ride. The problem with "XML advocates" is they don't like the way that the HTML/5 ride operates. The HTML/5 approach makes the ride different, not wrong as suggested. The XML advocates are very vocal on a type of XML Schema stereotyping.

All content is is presented in a structural format like title, heading, paragraph, list, table, image or rich media. That is how print books have been typeset for 400 years, and before that, how manuscripts were written for 500 years.

The problem with content is that it can be anything and can change at anytime, but the good thing is it will always have titles, headings, paragraphs, lists and layout. The semantic XML advocates are so focussed on semantics that they create complexity where it doesn't exist and is not required.

Add to this desktop mania. There is no doubt the desktop solutions do not deliver anything of significant value let alone any future digital content value. While it may be possible to scratch ePub out of InDesign, it will never deliver any future value for content, It is limited, proprietary, content format machine (mainly PDF), where content deceases. Publishers need a digital content Phoenix machine.

Conclusion

  • Print - multiple editions - hardcover, paperback, mass market, etc.
  • e-Book - ePub2, ePub3, Mobi, Kindle, tomorrow's invention
  • Emerging tech - HTML5, Apps, WebApps, something new
  • Specialist - SCORM, static sites, enhanced and value added components
  • Tomorrow's unknown formats

It also means understanding that desktop applications like InDesign, Sigil, Calibre and the ilk are as much an issue for content as XML "semantic" strategies.

Advanced digital content ownership strategies means exactly that. Breaking away from, the noise XML advocates, while making sure content is available to make current and future business. This decision shouldn't be as complex as it is.

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Axis12 specialise in building, hosting and supporting high traffic, content heavy web applications for both the public and private sector that help them achieve their Digital First aspirations. We recently implemented Cross Platform Publisher for the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, which has transformed the way online reporting and publishing is carried out.
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