A Brief History Of Content

30 Jul

What is content?
Content is any information communicated using a medium such as speech, writing, print, visual, or even sign language. Content has an audience within a specific context. A book, a tweet, a status update, a video, a podcast, a product review, a TED talk, a question, and an answer are all examples of content.

Humans beings have evolved over millions of years. The oldest content – some cave paintings – have been discovered that are about 32,000 years old. From cave paintings, sign language, spoken language, and writings to today’s medium of electronic devices, content creation and distribution has come a long way.

So how has the content changed over the years? Here’s a brief history of content.

Middle ages
For thousands of years, before written language existed, knowledge was passed from one generation to the next using gestures, drawings, and later spoken language. Then we started writing, and a handful of very knowledgeable people, such as Socrates, da Vinci, and Shakespeare, created literary and artistic pieces. Content was premium because it was written and copied by hand and there was very few of it.

Modern and Industrial age
In the fifteenth century, Gutenberg invented the hand-operated printing press. It enabled printing of a large number of books and other literary works. During the industrial revolution, a mechanized version of the printing press helped massive creation and distribution of printed materials. Content creators were more than ever before but they were still a minority. Electronic production and recording medium were invented in the twentieth century that helped creation and distribution of content to an even larger population and commoditize content.

The Internet age (1995-2000)
In mid 1990s, Internet started becoming accessible to the  general populace. The content creators and consumers multiplied, and the cost of creating and distribution started veering toward zero. The content was still static text and images delivered over the slow dial-up connections.

The age of the broadband
Beginning in 2001, home broadband started becoming ubiquitous and affordable. Content now included not just text and images but also Flash animations and short videos. Online learning revolution started at around the same time though it didn’t quite revolutionize education as many had expected.

The “social” age
The age in which we live now can be called the social age. Dominated by Facebook and Twitter, we create small chunks of content on a daily basis and share it with our friends and followers. Movies, restaurants, and everything under the sun (sold by Amazon) is being reviewed by the consumers and shared with the rest.

Content has come a long way. From premium priced content created by experts, the world is gravitating toward socially-created content that costs nothing. And this is happening because the quality of content is not enough. It’s the marketing, relevance, and social features enabled by technology that is revolutionizing the business of content.

Is content still king?


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