02 February 2012

Sharing Future Content

This is a post about content again. Obviously I believe Internet content will be important. The issue right now is that content dissemination is determined by those who control the structures in which content is created on the Internet. In one sense we can regard SOPA as a red herring. Gate-keeping already exists on the Internet.

However for a future economy and for the development of the present one, we might see something like this: content itself becomes the functional equivalent of these complex software programs which express structures for creating content. So let us look for what is already there. Sharing is a word which crops up a lot.

On some networks this is done with restraint on some it is done with a great freedom. Neither is necessarily better. For the profitability of companies, it is a matter of users clicking on ads or buying virtual currencies or somehow interacting with the structures for monetization created by the company.

That may be a function of ad targeting. There is already a pay by view internet and all content providers ask whether one should go premium. But the strong bias of the internet has always been that it is both open, that is available to all on it, and free. The freedom of the internet may be a function of the extent to which it is free, in a monetary sense.

So if one goes with indirect monetization, that is a matter of numbers and engagement. It may itself depend on that free access (a kind of virtuous circle). This issue of course is how much engagement you want on the content. But that comes down to this, finding ways to integrate content itself with monetization, without charging for it.

But what does this mean for content providers. Is it possible for content itself to be a monetized structure while not being created for these aims. Well, yes, I believe it is, but it still comes down to numbers and engagement and that is a function of the structures within which this content exists. It is a fine grained control.

We might see SOPA as a coarser grained control and we might see the presently existing PRO-IP (passed under President Bush) as an even coarser grained control. The granularity of the grain is not a matter of better or worse, btw, that depends on your perspective.

However, if one wants that distributed, open free internet, one would presumably want as coarse a grain of control as possible. It is hard to see how regulations and control can be made both coherent with the model of the internet and finely focused (but all things are possible).

In all events the nature of the internet needs to be taken into account, which is perhaps how those fine grained controls of those structures content work, they understand this, as they are the internet. More particularly, they are both fine grained and adaptive. Can regulation be like that ?

But what we are really interested on this site, in the view of alternative investing, is the monetization that comes from inputs into the structures created. That is traditionally, VC funds or later the market itself.

For these the interest is in the future income stream of these structures. That is, is it possible to value content provision in such a way. Well, for something that does not really exist, that would be a hard question to answer, it is hard enough when it does exist.

But it is something to think about, because the key issue for all new emerging things, is spotting them at the right stage.

However I might suggest a key issue is the capacity for the content provider to share their content for their monetization aims rather than the aims of the structures they operate in. Or at least find a happy medium.

That provides the incentive from which revolutions are made. It all comes down to the motivated creative output of the individual or team.

What all this means is that without the numbers, one, or a group, can still motivate with a sense of deferred compensation, as internet content has a freewheeling openness itself that allows that possibility. In a practical sense, it attracts money right now, to fund and invest.

It allows for a pre-start up state of exploration, which depends on the capacity of the explorer to do this. But it allows for a direction that is not a function of present reward, but is nonetheless a direction.

That is something we might consider as beneficial for the structure of a future company. It as well may make the spotting stage more efficient.