Work flow for creation may have shifted to more digital pathways, but most discussions assume a formal media delivery of a finished, locked product. Products have rules based on their media segment, with set delivery dates and SKUs.
With content stored in the cloud, the opportunity expands. Creators are not confined to street dates, final publications, and locked definitions of videos, books, music, games, and the like.
One example is in the changing book sector. Enhanced books, now being distributed through major online outlets, bring this question to the forefront. Brian O’Leary, in the 2012 Book: A Futurist Manifesto, specifically questions the “container.” In the past, book creation systems have assumed a specific context of delivery. Books have been designed around a single type of output, delivery date, and life after production. O’Leary calls these assumptions pre-artifact, artifact, and post-artifact. He examines the possibilities of what can be re-envisioned if the container is variable, and if the content is created to be able to live socially during production, at distribution, and for its ongoing life.
The intriguing concept here goes beyond digital workflow before a product is released, and digital fingerprinting and social media analysis after release in a cloud world. The concept becomes broader. Delivery rules become fluid, separate, and distinct from content creation. A media product, just like web-based software now, could be in perpetual beta. Product can be changed and amended before release and after release, with part of the ownership being updates in content and possibly sequels and extensions. This could be a premium business model, further connecting the consumer with the content creator, or separating them by enhanced re-aggregation. PaaS and SaaS options could be created to be perpetual engagements with multiplatform products, as these begin to blur between categories.
If we begin to rethink time-locked containers, we begin to see different delivery mechanisms that may have much longer product life than our increasingly quick velocity of new products being released and spun into history in this current mode of digital delivery.
Added Value: Blend with Live: Value and relationship with the consumer can also blend cloud-based, connected services with live experiences. Alternative Reality Games, such as 42 Entertainment’s Dark Knight engagement several years ago, blended online and live activities for 18 months. Music has been doing this in its own way already, with an engaging business model. VIP memberships are gaining certain fans integrated consumption of live and online relationships—great concert tickets, premium virtual goods, distinctive merchandise, and live engagements with the artists.
Added Value: Premium Context: O’Leary also points out that there is benefit to re-adding context to the content. With books, digital delivery is both stripping away formatting for distribution as well as making some formats more context-driven. iPad delivery looks and feels different than Android. Premium products, off of the same core content, are becoming the norm with distinctive features in different platforms. These high-touch interactive differences by platform are becoming another ecosystem on top of these cloud deliveries. Authoring tools are in beta to help creative producers and publishers provide high touch interactive engagement with the same product that they are having to make available to simpler digital delivery methods. Each of these delivery modes, in the meantime, need digital workflow to keep all of this straight, before, during, and after delivery.
We already are breaking open the container—the intriguing opportunity here is breaking open its locked nature of being “done” and “alone.” It also can be more than a “movie” or “book,” as we are able to step between definitions – launching interactive book products blending images, video, books, and interactivity as an example, if you don’t have to stay in locked format containers.
By bringing content from our hard drives to the cloud, we have the potential to open Pandora’s Box. By having infrastructures and platforms shared with new innovators, we have the potential to blur traditional boxes of delivery and of locked content. By changing our consumption from our own “storage” and “ownership” to “just” the concept of cloud-based storage, we are in the midst of changing habits and attitudes of more than just “buy” versus “stream,” but also of what it means to be distributing, creating, producing, and engaging.
Now that we are opening Pandora’s Box, we shouldn’t be startled that consumers find a different type of “hope” in the bottom.
“Storage”: An interesting word in the context of “digital stuff.” Like the word “collect,” storage implies that it is our “digital stuff,” that we have ownership rights to it.
Storage, as a social metaphor, brings with it context from our daily, physical lives. It may bring to mind Public Storage units, areas under overpasses where we put the detritus of our lives: mom’s sofa, the wagon wheel coffee table that we fight over, or three rooms of furniture as we downsize homes. Storage bears echoes of George Carlin’s 1986 comedy routine about stuff to hold our stuff in.
He detailed how we have stuff everywhere and have some stuff that is more important than other stuff, which we want to keep with us always. Our digital stuff holds many of those same traits: we have digital stuff all over the place, some is more important, and some we want to keep with us always as well.
Email has become a “gateway drug” for the cloud, training users to expect abundance of digital storage. Digital storage was framed for many years as precious, to be used wisely. Previously, companies chastised their employees about using too much e-mail space through automated warning messages. Expectations have escalated since 2 MB in free email storage was offered by Hotmail in 1996. Yahoo started at 4 MB in 1997, and Gmail started its beta with 1 GB in 2004. Yahoo joined in with unlimited storage in 2007, and Google upped the game soon after with its “Infinity Plus One” storage plan, which has grown individual storage now to more than 7 GB for free unlimited storage for Gmail[i]. Hotmail has since moved to “ever-growing,” nearly unlimited storage, continuing to change social norms about digital storage expectations.
Entire business ecosystems have sprung up, dealing with sharing, backup, and cloud storage. These tools have shifted home and business users to consider storage issues such as ubiquity, mobility, sharing, multiple devices, and permanence. Despite these roving ambitions, most people’s work and social habits have not kept up. Products have launched to help us filter and gather our email, though the majority of users still let the content swamp us out and push into unfiltered folders.
2011 was a year of many media “cloud” storage toolset launches, with more solutions to this “problem” on the horizon. Cloud-based content storage now reaches into consumer lives as well as business services. Digital media is a growing percentage of our personal digital storage. As a digital culture, we also are rethinking storage as to digital media.
This transition brings with it a series of questions about this “problem,” and about the relationships between the consumer and cloud-based media storage in the future:
What are the problems that companies and consumers are trying to solve with cloud-based media storage?
Is this time a transition while we are in changing habits of mobility, sharing, and recommendation with tablets and smartphones?
Is it a transition, with different trajectories for our existing digital stuff and entirely new behaviors with new acquisitions and our own digital media creations?
How might this transition drive permanent changes in our concepts of content ownership, collection, and storage?
How will this change our willingness to pay for storage and to pay a premium for ownership?
Further, playing off of the George Carlin riff on stuff drives two related questions:
What do I expect from the stuff I need to manage my digital stuff?
Is the nature of stuff itself changing?
The music and book media sectors have been facing these issues head-on. Their company leaders have been forced to rethink what the context and containers for our media content mean in an environment of abundance. They have been rethinking books and music in a terrain of fluid data and scarcer time. Other sectors, including video and even education, may find ideas from looking to other media platforms and sectors for pain points, challenges, and new business models.
This blog post from Maremel’s white paper will continue in three steps:
Drivers that are accelerating cloud-based consumer media storage,
Challenges to be met as Pandora’s Box opens, and
Opportunities that lay beneath, beyond the popular discussions about content in the cloud.
[i] Now adding 3.3 MB each day to the limit, per Google.
Dr. Johnson is looking forward to joining in the Content in the Cloud Conference Track at the Consumer Electronics Show. The afternoon session—”The Impact on Consumers of Implementing Cloud Computing for Media Storage”— will run from 1:45-2:30 pm on Wed., Jan. 11 at North Hall N258 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
We’re releasing a very recent white paper that Dr. Johnson has written as a thought-piece about the impacts on media ownership of transitioning to the cloud.
You can download the paper at this link. Please join us as well with our e-newsletter, where we will be sharing future white papers, event announcement, and executive leadership programs.
In moving content to the cloud, content companies challenge social norms in ownership, payment, time, and place. This move toward empowered computing and shared online services is not new, and has been driven by long-term shifts in costs of digital storage, computing power, and communications across vast distances. As this ecosystem continues to develop and expand, challenges and opportunities are unfolding for consumers, content creators, and content service providers. These challenges include building new behaviors and attitudes about ownership, discovery, value of storage, offline media use, joint ownership, commoditization of services, competing with freemium business models, and licensing of content across blossoming new platforms layered on IaaS delivery. This shift may change across broad spectrums of media what it means to own content, as well as reshape the perceived need to own content. The shift also provides opportunities for new players to question what it means to create for “containers” (O’Leary, 2012) versus the past modes of creating for platforms. Content might instead spread between traditional media types and may add value with a perpetual beta mode and direct long-term connection with consumers.
Please contact us for additional information about this and other reports from Maremel.
What should we do with all our ideas throughout the year?
I used to be queen of lists. I hate all my lists – I would write ideas for new projects and creative work down, yet would either consider them “done” or never find them again.
Cloud Tools: So far, I’m trialing both Evernote and Diigo in my search for the perfect cloud computing solution with all of my devices — cell phone, laptop, desktop (for video editing and research), iPad, and computers while at other people’s offices. I like the concept of cloud solutions with my own folksonomy of tagging. I can save and tag ideas from the web or emails, then actually FIND them again later by topic on ANY computer in the “cloud.” I can send them to the cloud from my phone, iPad, or whatever, with tags – so I can actually nurture them and find them when you want them. Each solution has its own quick buttons and macro key clicks to do this quickly, so I’m building new habits.
They don’t help, however, with the 6” stack of idea notes that I’ve assembled and left unnurtured in 2010…
Do I read them all? Highlight? Scan and injest into the cloud?
Big Stuff: I do have another solution for my BIG projects, like books, research, video shows, and classes. For these bigger projects, I’m somewhat addicted to Microsoft’s OneNote on my main computer. I just print to OneNote2010 what I’m working on and have a gigantic archive of searchable items that I can ‘folderize’ and visualize. In any of these tools, I can tag or label things the way MY funky brain works and feed the beast when I’m looking for something cool later. These often are big squishy messes of ideas and details to wrestle with, so I benefit from a big, squishy tool.
Mañana: What can we do with the “other” stuff? I am blessed with something that Julie Schulman and I coined a decade ago — mañana lists. We would create a mañana list of all the things we knew needed to be done that we agreed could always be done tomorrow. I love to use the tag “mañana.” That’s for the interesting things for “if I have time later.” It’s the “no guilt tag.”
I welcome other suggestions. Productivity software is one of the big growth areas in this time of tsunamis of information. Lots of services will help you filter what comes in from the outside. This challenge is what to do with the gems and silt from the inside…and how to think about re-gifting and sorting them with others.
Have a great 2011 with your new adventures. And may all your ideas be bountiful AND taggable.