I’m working on a bunch of posts for the new year that will refocus this blog and start to detail what it is I’m really talking about. I’m currently workshopping those ideas with friends and associates, and trying to hone the message so that it will be clear and resonate with the people who will get the most use out of those ideas.
But since I’m a geek at heart I often like to figure out the attributes of things as I go along. For me a huge part of understanding something is figuring out the stats you might give it if you were using it as a dynamic in a role-playing game. Yes, like Dungeons & Dragons (which I’m sure I’ll be talking about a bunch next year when their new “net friendly” fourth edition rules are launched next spring).
In that vein I’ve been trying to come up with a good general definition for “content”. Looking for a qualitative way to figure out what content is without worrying about qualitative labels like “good” or “bad”. So I’ve come up with the following:
Content is material intended for public consumption that takes at least ten times as long to create as it does to consume.
I think the 10X number is probably a little low, but I’m not trying to get into endless fights about what the minimum value should be. At least not yet.
I’m counting everything that it takes to get it ready to be seen. If it’s a movie I’d include time spent on set building, script writing, training, setting up cameras and post production. Everything that you need to do up until the point you unleash your vision on the world.
The truth is I don’t think there’s anything even close to “real time” entertainment. Technology has simplified the act of making stuff (in some cases), but everything worth experiencing as entertainment or learning has a time cost associated with it.
Does it sound like an interesting and useful definition to you?
A digital photograph can take a second to produce and upload but the audience can study it for hours. I can spend months creating a rubbish painting whereas an artist could knock out something of far more worth in a fraction of the time. Surely it’s impossible to set this threshold at which point something becomes ‘content’ as you are attempting to measuring value as a function time.
Time is irrelevant, value is the perceived worth for the specific audience.
Photography. Good one.
I don’t think time of creation irrelevant, but maybe it can’t be a mandatory part of the definition.
I’ll have to think about it some more.
Great photography actually takes much more than few seconds if you factor in the time spent taking all the other photos that weren’t so great, not to mention researching/buying equipment and also possibly educating oneself to the craft.
I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on the big picture behind formula. If we all agree on the ‘create/consume’ ratio then what’s the next step? How do we leverage that?