Friday, November 13, 2009

Content and Containers

It wasn't that long ago that content was, in general, scarce. I still remember those long gone summers at my grandma's farm house, and how eagerly I used to await Fridays when I'd get to read my latest comic strip periodical. Those were the days when content was scarce, the medium was expensive, and the attention of the targeted audience was guaranteed.

Today, we're all of a sudden faced with the exact opposite situation: content, all kinds of content, is copiously abundant, the media is super cheap (actually, it's practically free), but the attention of the targeted audience is virtually non-existent.

Our ages old fascination with containers (i.e. the carriers of content, such as newspaper print, radios, TVs, VCRs, record players, CD players, DVD players etc.) has now taken a serious nose dive. No one cares anymore how the content gets delivered. We have reached the point where we simply want to consume the content, on demand, at the very moment when we feel like it.

And modern technology is delivering precisely that -- content on demand. If I wish to watch an episode of my favorite TV sitcom, I don't have to check the TV Guide anymore, and wait for the episode to air. I simply watch it on the web, on demand, online.

This is a very essential and a very significant change in the way we traditionally used to consume content. While up until very recently it went without saying that a desired content can be delivered for our consumption only via expensive containers, today we've grown accustomed to the fact that the container doesn't matter anymore. Whether we wish to read the latest news, or a timeless book, or listen to the radio program, or watch TV, or listen to music, watch a movie and so on, we simply get that content delivered directly to us via the web. It's all digital now, so the container doesn't matter.

The moral of the story is that anyone who is planning to make money by charging people for using their proprietary containers is on a fool's errand. These days are gone, and today no one is fascinated with the containers.

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