Content is the New UI v1.

content is the new ui

If we were to look at some of atomic bits of a typical piece of information that a person consumes these days online, there might be a headline with text, at least a couple supporting sentences of text, maybe an image that could either be a photo, illustration (maybe a fancy animated gif), and a different media type like audio or video clip. This doesn’t take into account dynamic data forms like analytics of course. But for the typical person to person experience the above data points make up a majority of the interaction. Now considering how a person might actually intake some of that info to make sense of it, there’s no one standard outlet. In terms of news it used to be a newspaper or corporate tv, now it’s just about anything that might have a screen on it. Laptops, mobile devices, tv’s, those monitors in elevators, instant messaging, email, txt’ing, game devices and probably a thousand more.

That simple story with a headline, text, image and media type combined now have to be able to play nicely with all those devices mentioned above, and not only that have to be able to interconnect with the devices. For instance maybe I want to read my email on my laptop, mobile device and forward it on to my tv at some point. They’re all pieces that are being defined by content and how it flows together. That atomic piece of content changes depending on how it’s viewed within different contexts and it’s impossible to know what they all could be. The challenge is to make those bits have enough hooks that they can latch on to anything, show other potential items of value and let it grow organically. That also means letting others take that content and merge it with other medias that are out of the hand of the original creator. It’s a scary proposition but just like water content has to be treated as a building block and not seen as something that only one person controls.

The other question is motivation—why would I even bother passing along that important piece of content, or take the time to create something new out of it? Sure people like being creative but there also needs to be financial incentive. While pay walls are being floated out there, I can’t really recall the last time someone passed me on an article from FT. If anything, those that pass on and create new content from the building blocks should see some sort of financial incentive, a concept that probably would drive most people that create the content in the first place insane. But if there was a manageable way that both those that start something and those that make it valuable can work hand in hand the digital content stream that is the new UI could be a win win for everyone involved.

Content Flow

content flow

I’ve been obsessed w/ the phrase “Rip it, steal it, web it, mail it, post it. This message wants to MOVE!” since reading it on the bottom of If you disregard theft for a second (karma does bite) and look at the philosophy of being able to grab something that’s important to you and share it w/ others, it becomes more valuable. Someone get’s to learn from something that they wouldn’t otherwise have seen or experienced, and in return there’s some sort of appreciation for the person that passed it on. My question is this, if you see something on the web and you can’t share or embed it – is there any value?

If you care about your stuff, make sure people can duplicate it

Duplicates of the films and videos that were destroyed were stored in a different location, according to the president of NBC Universal, Ron Meyer. "Nothing is lost forever," he said.

A couple days ago my site (DesignNotes) went down for a day. I could tell what time things went down b/c my stats stopped bringing in numbers. For the first couple hours I wasn’t that irritated b/c from time to time isp’s go down and there’s a lag. With that said by mid afternoon my irritation scaled. By the evening when things still weren’t back to normal I started going through some of the regular channels of digital communication. I was complaining via twitter (when their site was actually working) via my status in facebook. I considered posting a pic on flickr but had to actually use my time more wisely. In the end things got fixed and I’m happy again.

There’s a couple reasons why I put the quote above up. While designNotes was down, I had most of the data backed up though I’m not sure if I could figure out myself how to re instate it on another blog. I have an active imagination – part of me during the evening when things were down thought about some of the what ifs. What if my url wasn’t going to work anymore, what if all my blog posts were gone forever, what if i wake up tomorrow and figure out how I’m going to post? Some of the questions were a bigger deal than others, but still they were all important to me.

The biggest of the issues was the what if I had lost all my blog post content. I consoled myself by watching a lot of Top Chef, something that I only recently started watching. What made me feel slightly better is seeing myself as a chef. You create something and then it’s gone. All that is left is the experience. You use your skills, put something out there and at the end of the meal you hope the person is better off than before. The food can’t be save indefinitely. Not being a chef but assuming that of you are one you don’t feel a huge sense of loss at the end of the day when people have eaten your food and realize that the exact same thing might not be replicated the exact same way again. You have confidence that you can re create what you’ve done tomorrow and the next day. While I will try to keep all my posts together for a long time, if something horrible happens I know when I wake up the day after that I start again.

That brings me to my second point. If has stayed down I had a number of options to start creating new content. The quick and dirty way would have been to throw something up on to tumblr, post a link on twitter, facebook, put on image on flickr and if the content of the post was really important send out an email to the people I think should see the post.

I also considered that for the stuff that I’ve written and has been reblogged elsewhere, the content wasn’t lost. I could go search for those posts and bring it back to my next site. It would also be an interesting way to reedit my content. Only the best stuff that others took would be the site…

Why this all connects to the quote is that it’s really important to have all the content that you care about in a number of places. If it can not be duplicated you better trust the source holder. If you don’t make sure you have backups. Of course backups can also copied and distributed elsewhere, but I think that issue is best left for another post.

Right to copy works for preservation and ownership

While not the sexiest of subjects copyright and rights management are pretty topical at the moment. While I’m enjoying muxtape immensely it’s probably only a matter of time before it gets shut down. This post isn’t really about that though. It has more two do with two articles that I came across at almost the same time. The first article comes via titled The Marilyn Case: A Big Win for Photographers and the second article from Businessweek called While the Books Crumble. While I’m not going to try to sum up the articles they both represent an interesting period of time between creative work, ownership, law and how things will be archived in the future. Most people that visit DesignNotes are in the business of making things – it’s a topic that should be on the radar for what it’s worth. While we’re not lawyers we should be taking an active role in how these type of policies are dealt with in the times we live in.

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