Think you are giving customers what they want? Not if they have to navigate through multiple menus and sift through search results to find it. And what if the customer isn’t entirely sure what she needs in the first place? If companies want to connect users with content, then they need to remove the pain from the discovery process and provide users with what they want—perhaps even before they know they need it.
A report from the Cutter Consortium, an IT advisory firm, says that the U.S. Patent Office should carefully re-examine its rules and regulations regarding software patents. Cutter believes the U.S. software patent scheme is “badly broken” and that, in light of the European Union’s ruling not to grant patents on software, it is time for the U.S. to give serious thought to revamping its patent system.
Twenty-first century business is transacted online—even the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has trouble getting people to read paper versions of corporate proxy statements in the econtent age. In a move to regain investors’ attention, a recently proposed SEC rule change would allow them to read and post proxy communications via the Web.
Consider for a moment how many visual cues you rely on when accessing a Web site. Without even thinking, your eyes quickly scan navigation menus, examine main headings, spy the search box, and skim over other links. Now imagine, if you can, what it would be like if you couldn’t use a mouse and needed to use only your keyboard to move around a Web site. It would be, as one Web accessibility expert put it, like looking at a Web site through a soda straw.
Ask fans of the dearly departed free file-swapping software Grokster—if digital content sounds too good to be true, or too cheap to be legal, it probably is. While building a free digital library might not seem like an audacious move at first glance, when three major Internet companies each aspire to create the biggest, most widely accessible library ever, copyright watchers the world over take notice.
At the local level, a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina can either stress libraries and schools or destroy them. While communities always seem to come together at trying times like these and find a way to go on, digital content now provides many organizations with a way to prepare for and contend with devastating events like these.
The question facing digital entertainment companies seems to have changed from Can we implement effective DRM? to Should we even try? The shift seemed inevitable to some as one digital or audio DRM scheme after the next was swiftly circumvented. However, while some software distributors began to view pass-along as an inevitable fact of the digital distribution universe—developing DRM models to enable and monetize file sharing—the entertainment industry has been slow to follow.
The EContent team suggests some sites, projects, and resources that—while outside the scope of the EContent 100 list—are well worth taking a closer look at.
Vasont Systems is releasing the newest version of its Vasont content management software at the Gilbane Conference in Boston this month. Vasont’s CMS is designed to enable users to manage, organize, and reuse content for multiple print, CD, wireless, and Web formats. In fact, Vasont boasts that its clients report 71% content reuse.
Trying to download the same song to your PC, MP3 player, and cell phone usually means downloading three different files from three different sources, thanks to the brand-exclusive DRMs that come with each individual digital content player. Sun Microsystems is trying to find a way to simplify that process with its Open Media Commons initiative, a cross-industry, open source project aimed at developing a royalty-free rights management standard for digital content.
In contrast to previous generations of technology that focused primarily on automating business processes within the organization largely to reduce cost, this new generation of technology will shift to amplifying the practices of people, especially as they seek to collaborate. This new breed of software—which includes collaborative workspaces, blogs, and wikis—allows companies and individuals to address unexpected challenges and opportunities.
RSS feeds offer a revolutionary way for Web publishers to reach their audience. Instead of relying on the mercurial nature of readers’ online viewing habits or the increasingly ineffective use of email to push content to users, RSS allows publishers to enable readers to pull fresh site content into a desktop RSS aggregator. Yet getting eyeballs on the content is only part of the equation—content providers are still seeking out the best way to monetize RSS feeds.
When you think of KM, you probably think of the corporate variety, but there is also a more personal type of knowledge management whereby individual workers try to keep track of the information they encounter in their daily work lives, and more importantly, make intelligent use of that information.
People archive all the time and don't even realize it, much less realize its value. For instance, a mother may want to have records about her son who recently enlisted in the Army. Her pride may cause her to keep track of his accomplishments, yet these records will take on profound importance if he loses his life fighting in Iraq. We often do not grasp the importance of archiving until a major event in history shows us why we should stay connected with the past.
So far, the big online search companies such as Yahoo!, MSN, and Google have been slow to answer, which has allowed smaller, more nimble companies like Technorati (the current leader), Daypop, Feedster, and IceRocket to gain a foothold in the market for blog search tools. It is a potential gold mine of a market for big and small companies alike.
Techno-geeks and futurists like George Lucas say that digital video-based “Digital Cinema” is superior to today’s standard film-based cinema. Many beg to differ, especially when it comes to image quality. Regardless of videophiles’ varying opinions on the appearance of Digital Cinema, the bottom line is the bottom line. If the distribution of feature movies to the world’s cinemaplexes (now done by shipping individual film prints to each theater) could transition to digital video file transfers, the cost savings for Hollywood and the rest of the world’s motion picture industry would be enormous—estimates vary from $900 million to $2.28 billion annually.
Why bother with all the issues of installation and upgrades, server maintenance and security, when for a fee, you could let the vendor take care of it all? However, hosted CMS is certainly not for everyone as—right or wrong—concerns about hosting linger.
The new wave of marketing professionals manages by the numbers, and technology companies have emerged to serve their needs. While the market is mostly fragmented into products that serve specific marketing niches, savvy marketers are increasingly leveraging content management tools to help them work more efficiently and effectively.
The peer-review process is part of the foundation on which academic publishing was built, and while Open Source publishing models are emerging along with alternative outlets for scholarly publication, it remains the most respected method for assessing the quality of published works. Venerable publisher Elsevier is no stranger to the traditions of scientific, medical, and technical publishing, but has not shied away from leveraging digital delivery options for its works. In November of last year, the company launched its Scopus project, which is a multidisciplinary navigation tool that contains records dating back to the mid 1960s.
If your cell phone knew what you were going to do at two o’clock, would that change how you planned your day? If your cell phone “predicted” correctly where you would be at a particular time of the week, how would you feel? No longer hypothetical situations, the Reality Mining experiment answers these questions.
After a decade of digital information overload—email, multimedia, and endless Web surfing—podcasting is starting to engage the enterprise because of its sheer simplicity. This is new technology that revives our appreciation of the oldest medium. Podcasting offers brief, regularly scheduled, and automated distribution of media that pokes through the digital noise with the most basic and compelling content delivery device of all, the human voice.
Cyberspace doesn’t give its travelers much room for reflection. Every day, millions of Web sites are updated, and older versions are erased from existence with the click of a button. Remember when Amazon.com sold only books? Or when WebCrawler ruled the search universe? The Wayback Machine does.
In July, RSS Investors, LP announced the creation of the first investment fund specializing in companies based on the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) family of standards and services. The fund, created by Jim Moore, John Palfrey, Richard Fishman, and Steve Smith and Tom Crowley (representing Ritchie Capital Management), will focus on supporting and nurturing the technologies and leaders who are championing RSS-related technologies, including news aggregation, blogs, and new classes of search engines.
With the increasing globalization of business and the sharing of information among companies, customers, and suppliers in far-flung parts of the world, protecting confidential information, not only within an enterprise, but also once it leaves, has become paramount. Take a look at the DRM providers vying to protect enterprise content.
Like most professions, the advent of digital content has affected the legal profession. It has changed the means and methods by which law firms, their clients, and the courts themselves must use, manage, and discover content.
The April announcement of a planned Adobe/Macromedia merger left some content creators in a lather, fearing that it would, at worst, blunt competition and inflate price tags on vital publishing and Web development tools, or at best, result in the most successful product in each space being simply integrated by its former competitor.
There are always myriad issues involved (from the technical to the philosophical) when it comes to moving content across disparate systems, but these problems come into glaring focus when the content includes confidential medical data.
People buy luxury cars—at least in part—because they are aesthetically pleasing. The same motivation drives people to auto parts stores for spinners to go with essentials like new tires. 3B is attempting to capitalize on a similar premise with its new navigation tool. Currently free for download, the 3B.net browser is designed to mimic a shopping mall or town center in order to leverage one of the most fundamental human behaviors: window shopping.
New Yorkers might be in a perpetual rush, but for cardholders at the New York Public Library, reading on the go just got easier. In June, the NYPL launched its eAudio program, making more than 700 popular, educational, and literary titles available for download through the library’s Web site. With authors ranging from Jane Austen to Dr. Phil, the size and variety of the audio book offerings make the NYPL’s eAudio program one of the largest of its kind.
While the market for business content remains strong, content providers are increasingly expanding their audience pool by offering wares in different packages and price points. Alacra’s announcement of its Alacra Store demonstrates an increasing trend of providing patrons with a variety of inroads to premium content.
Despite the steady move to econtent by publishers, printers, academia, and corporations, there are still plenty of people who want paper and turn to digital content only reluctantly, according to Jean Bedord, consultant and senior analyst with Shore Communications, Inc. The need for better tracking of print advertising finally has been infused with new possibility, courtesy of a digital content technology.
Web Services and XML technologies are catching on in traditional and digital publishing as well as in a variety of other industries. Consultants and vendors agree that there’s no single event that’s led to the increased popularity of these technologies but say the applications are now more proven and are gaining critical mass among users.
Back in 2000 when it looked as though the entire world’s content would soon be digitized, a myth developed that in the not-too-distant future, paper books would be supplanted by ebooks. While this hasn't come to pass, ebooks have wormed their way into the reference market and may have found a home.
In mid-May, Audible, a provider of digital spoken audio content, and Pearson Education, an educational publisher, announced a partnership to develop and distribute audio-only study guides to college students as a supplement to Pearson’s textbook product line.
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) may be really simple for publishers in terms of providing a quick alternate content delivery stream and it may be a relatively simple way to help avoid inbox info-glut, but it isn’t always so simple to integrate into an information-gathering routine. For the most part, RSS readers provide only the most basic functionality to do just that: read feeds. However, a few RSS readers out there are trying to do more—like help info-seekers find appropriate feeds, manage the incoming information for future use, and access it in different ways that suit a variety of needs. Pluck is one such feisty RSS reader.
Handheld devices are becoming increasingly useful at freeing business users from the constraints of the desktop to view documents. Unfortunately, mobile handheld devices share common limitations, not the least of which are small screens and slow network speeds. Here’s a look at some mobile document delivery hurdles, and the efforts being made to overcome them.
The BBC recently launched a trial program called BBC Backstage that allows developers to use some BBC content free of charge for non-commercial purposes. The BBC hopes the program encourages creativity and produces interesting ways to use its content in the same spirit in which Google and Amazon (and others) have opened up their application program interfaces (APIs) to developers.
We hear in the news about famine-stricken areas of Africa, but due to connectivity problems, much of Africa is also information-starved. And, like a shortage of food, a shortage of information can be a disaster. Founded in 2000 to mitigate the third world’s dire digital communications problems, the WiderNet Project is a largely volunteer, nonprofit organization based at the University of Iowa.
In the Old Economy, those who owned the exclusive rights to a product or service could become very wealthy. Today the tables have turned; it’s openness and the free availability of good ideas that drive value. The mindset of not only the content consumer is shifting, but also that of vendors and even content providers, which seek to find ways to profit from the new (digital) economy. peggy anne salz
The open access (OA) landscape is littered with misconceptions and misunderstandings. In fact, the very definition of open access is frequently disputed. There are those who assume that anything free is open access and others who confuse it with kindred spirit open source, but understanding the definition is only to begin to grasp the issues OA raises. Marydee ojala
People already create, distribute, and consume mobile information and entertainment in the forms of news, music, and games; now art has gone mobile too. Several organizations are harnessing mobile technology to bring art to the masses and to provide artists with new outlets and creative forms.
When Ourmedia.org launched this past March, it provided a free space for creators of all types of content—including video, audio, and the written word—to distribute their content. Perhaps more importantly, however, it stepped in to fill an emerging need for a forum in which to discuss the best ways to create, produce, and distribute content.
By Ron Miller
- June 2005 Issue
Posted Jun 09, 2005
Citizen Journalism provides a place for people to celebrate the ordinary victories in their lives, a forum for discussing local political issues, coverage that specifically suits its local readership, and a way to connect people to one another—all things found wanting in a world dominated by big media monopolies. This budding phenomenon supports the community along with a new journalistic business model. Ron miller
By Ron Miller
- June 2005 Issue
Posted Jun 07, 2005
New Yorkers always look like they know where they’re going, barreling down avenues, cell phone in hand. The secret is that they don’t, or rather they haven’t—until now. In fact, they may not actually be talking on those cell phones anymore, but instead using a relatively new service called HopStop, a MapQuest-like offering that uses mass transit and walking directions to get users from Point A to Point B in the five boroughs of New York.
By Kinley Welly
- June 2005 Issue
Posted Jun 02, 2005
German media giant Bertelsmann reportedly pumped $85 million into the beleaguered Napster between 2000 and 2002, before Napster finally declared bankruptcy and its remains were scooped up by Roxio. So what did Bertelsmann get for its $85 mil? The short answer is, nothing. However, Bertelsmann did get something from its dalliance with Napster: a profound respect for P2P technology and its potential for content distribution.
By Mark Fritz
- June 2005 Issue
Posted May 31, 2005
AvantGo, a service of the Sybase Inc. subsidiary iAnywhere Solutions, is moving fast in its efforts to push mobile content forward. The company beta launched the AvantGo Travel Tab at the end of May, with the specific intention of assisting its business traveler clientele. The project began last year when focus groups of business travelers around the world were asked how they use mobile technology and what they find important.
By Kinley Welly
- June 2005 Issue
Posted May 27, 2005
Thomson Gale, part of The Thomson Corporation, has announced the newest enhancement to Gale's Virtual Reference Library, the eBook Subcollection Manager. Thomson Gale has also announced new enhancements and additional entries to several of the company’s online databases including Thomson Gale’s Virtual Reference Library, Business & Company Resource Center, and Social Science Electronic Data Library.
Posted May 27, 2005
Local search technology, which has been growing in popularity, is all about bringing information about where you live into your search parameters. For example, you can find a doctor or a florist in your area, get their phone number, a map with directions, and in some cases, access reviews of the business.
By Ron Miller
- May 2005 Issue
Posted May 16, 2005
It was not that long ago when PC users were pleading for decent consumer desktop search tools—software that provides a way to search your hard drive the same way you do the Internet. But with the exception of a few companies, nobody seemed to be heeding the call, not even the big names in Internet search: Google, MSN, and Yahoo!. Then suddenly last summer, that all changed, starting with Copernic’s release of a free desktop search tool. By the end of last year in flurry of releases, the big three followed with branded offerings. Others, including AOL and Ask, released tools as well. Some developed their own, while others purchased a solution or licensed one from another vendor. But in the course of a few months, we went from a sparsely populated desktop search marketplace to one crowded with solutions.
By Ron Miller
- May 2005 Issue
Posted May 16, 2005
Recently there’s been an explosion of new developments related to finding and using visual and audio resources on the Web. Multimedia is definitely hot. While there have been some fee-based services that monitor and provide clips of television programming for corporations, such as ShadowTV and Critical TV, we’re seeing considerable activity in providing free access to multimedia content on the Web.
By Paula J. Hane
- May 2005 Issue
Posted May 13, 2005