Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Perspectives on the Value of Content

7:42:00 PM Posted by Tommy No comments
Added value is often connected to the end of a process, i.e. when a product is finished (i.e. “produced”) it is ready to be consumed, as an end consumer product or as input to another process. And as we have seen stated in earlier blogs, the process perspective can help us calculate a net value of content based on the gap between the costs of producing the content connected to the value it brings to its consumer. It is also stated that the value is created when the content is consumed, and who could argue with that? Using the definition of content and information stated in the post Content Essentials, I would in this case like to define “consume” as the process of transforming content into information. This aforementioned approach of calculating content value is a very pragmatic way of stating content value, and works as good as any other method, or even better. But what if the content is never to be consumed? Has it then no value?

In certain situations content is created and managed just in case someone would benefit from it in the future. One example is SOP:s (Standard Operating Procedures) for emergency situations in a powerplant. No one would enjoy having to “consume” the content, but having it around “just in case” brings value to the company, the employees and the people living next to the plant. It can also be an issue of legislation compliance. Content has to be created, categorised and published in order to meet certain rules and regulations, even if no one ever would act on the content. If the content is missing, the company can be prosecuted and having to pay serious fines. Yet another example is archiving of public records within our public authorities.

The archiving issues for public authorities and governments are based on the solid ground of freedom of information acts (most countries in Europe have similar legislations) and the right for every citizen to look at public records. Other public legislations of course states the rules for the governments line of business. This means that from day one, actually from minute one, a public organisation has to acknowledge, define, tag and categorise incoming content in order to secure the existence and the integrity of it. For records created within the organisation it has to be managed in a similar way as soon it has been classified as a public record, i.e. working material is not classified as public records. Now, these records are to be archived in a certain structure, so that everyone that is interested could understand the context of the content. The records are then to be deleted at a certain time according to very granularly defined rules. Then, the interesting part enters, some of the records are to be preserved forever (we once defined “forever” as 4 000 years, but was by archivists informed that 4 000 years certainly not is forever) for future research needs. These needs are however defined today and maybe never will appear in the future. Hence we are producing content in order to make it possible for someone to consume it in the future, without knowing anything about the consumer or the consumer needs.

In all of this we can find at least two areas of that would be interesting to elaborate on in future sessions:

- Content that never will be consumed can bring value to an organisation or someone outside the organisation. Either this occurs as the value of meeting future demand, or as the value of not having to go to jail, pay fines or loose customers for non-compliance.

- Value can occur in different stages of the information lifecycle depending on situation and target groups. For a researcher the value could easier be gained at the end of the information lifecyle, when the content is stable and are easier subject to compilation. As for other groups, perhaps the content produced as working material, in the early stages of the lifecycle could bring more value than the stable, published and archived version of it.

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