Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Buying and Selling eContent: Roundtable Discussion Chews on XML

I was fortunate enough to chair a roundtable discussion at the Buying and Selling eContent conference on the convergence of content and technology, which drew an interesting cross-section of content aggregators, publishers and purchasers. I was struck in this discussion by how pervasive XML is today as the basis for most high quality content production and distribution. From the perspective of some of the global publishers, though, XML is not yet a global distribution standard, with plenty of localized distribution methods that still dominate in some areas of publishing. Nevertheless, XML offers the power of standardized distribution with the ability to personalize content in terms of its presentation. RSS syndication using XML was a topic in this and other roundtables, but notably only myself and Paul Gerbino, Publisher of the Product News Network, raised their hands amongst the attendees as being active users of this form of content distribution. It will be interesting to see how many hands go up next year. Put simply, XML is enabling individuals and institutions to access content in a standard and predictable manner that forces content providers to examine the basic value of their content more than ever before. The ironic part of this conference is that so many publishers are doing the right things with technology to add value in the right places for content, but yet this doesn't seem to alter the fact that most new ways to deliver content in a valuable manner are not being developed by established publishers or aggregators but by new players that focus on what users find to be valuable rather than on protecting long-established content licensing models as a source of revenues. The dot-com era is comfortably over, but its lessons seem to have come home to roost for good.
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