Saturday, October 6, 2007

Content is infrastructure--not king nor dead

I cringe when I hear polarized comments that oversimplify a complex concept. An example is when I hear "content is king", or I hear too, "content is dead". How can either statement be absolutely true? If either were so obvious, then why say it all? Since the two statements are direct opposites, how can either or both be true?

Here is only one example (from AKA Marketing) of many.

On the Internet content is king and always will be. This is because the Internet is the information superhighway and most people use it for information of some sort.

In another example, Content is king, but Linking is Queen.

Many also claim that quality content is king. Applecraft describes that it takes quality content to drive traffic to your website.

And then, there are those who announce that Content is Dead, Community is King.

Community killed content and stole the throne.

The problem with such descriptions is that they leave out the other elements. What about presentation, credibility of the source, content within context and applicability, and individuals' choice to read and learn what they want to? Is community more important than the content? Are presentation, design, and organization more important than the content? Can content alone be the delivery and serve our communities? Where does the individuals' value of the content fit?

David Wiley of Terra Incognita (Pennsylvania State University--World Campus) describes Content is infrastructure. Content is the staple. By having open content, we have the freedom to be innovative and creative.

...we must understand that content is infrastructure before we can see radical improvements in education.

...Take the roads (an example of civic infrastructure) as an example. When there are enough roads, going enough places, with enough capacity, and without tolls, we can expect to see significant experimentation and innovation on top of this infrastructure. In the case of roads, we can see people establishing a variety of transportation services (taxis, shuttles), delivery services (food, packages), support services (towing, tire repair), and other services. In the case of content, when there is a sufficient amount of open educational content on a sufficient number of topics at sufficient quality, we can also expect to see experimentation and innovation in localization services (translation, low-bandwidth delivery), accreditation services (degrees, certificates), and support services (tutors, study group locators).

I think I might have used other examples of services, like remixing content and individuals in online communities supporting each other rather than the examples that David uses.

In any case, open content initiates innovations and creativity into services we haven't thought of. Open content means that learners learn to grasp content and and use the content in ways we have not imagined because individuals value the content in various degrees and for various purposes.

1 comment:

Kevin Gamble said...


Enjoyed the read! Very timely. Fyi, David is @ Utah Stata.