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Content: Time Saved Versus Time Spent Trade-Off

by Gerry McGovern
Author, New Thinking


They say content is king, but the Internet has very often treated content as a pauper. We are now, however, experiencing a period of transition with regard to everything to do with content. It's a period where the focus will be on the value of content, and how to make a profit from delivering that content value to the reader.

The Internet has its roots in academia; the original knowledge economy. Academics and students are keen to share content, and are often not concerned about a direct financial return. As the commercial world and general public enthusiastically wrapped their arms around the Web in the mid-Nineties, they didn't just embrace the technology.

Academia gave the young Web a liberal education, and the young Web loved it. However, there was a vital piece missing in the education. It's the knowledge that content within an academic setting is only free on the surface. Academics don't necessarily want to get paid directly for their content (although that would be nice). But they do very much want to see a return. Academia can be as competitive as anywhere else.

There is a fundamental survival principle in academia. It is: Publish or perish! It's about getting your name and ideas out there. You may not get paid directly for the expression of these ideas. You will, however, get more research funding, get a fulltime position, get a raise in salary, get a nice ego massage.

If you don't publish, it matters little how good your ideas or research are; you will sink or stagnate. I write this publication to get my name and ideas out there. It may say that it's free but I know that it's not. There's a cost.

You are paying, this very minute, this very second, with the most valuable resource you have. Your time.

You might as well be writing me a check or handing over cash. It's costing you. And here lies the new model, not unlike the old model, for measuring the value of content. The value of content can be measured from a time perspective. There will always be a Web full of massive quantities of 'free' content.

All it will cost is your time.

It's not that difficult to create a time model to establish the basic value of content. Let's look at an example. John is a busy manager. John's productivity value is USD200 per hour. In other words, over a year, John creates USD400,000 of revenue. John needs to track changes in the chemical industry. When it comes to the Web, he has two basic choices. He can track all the various websites himself, figuring out the good from the bad. Or he can pay USD2,000 per year for a personalized chemical news service that delivers him every morning the five key stories of the day, and any major developments in twenty companies he has a particular interest in. What's John to do?

Logically, John should choose the news service if over a year it saves him more than 10 hours in finding the information he needs. Time spent versus time saved is a core cost benefit model for content. Expect to see it employed a lot more in the future.

Gerry McGovern, New Thinking 2001. All rights reserved.



Gerry McGovern is the author of New Thinking, a weekly column which has received numerous accolades and a book, THE CARING ECONOMY

The Caring Economy
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The Caring Economy, by Gerry McGovern, is published by Blackhall Publishing of 26 Eustace Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. ISBN 1-901657-61-2 Price _27.50 or US$35.95
Email: [email protected]

It is also available in the United States from Irish Books & Media, 1433 East Franklin Avenue, MN, USA 55404-2135. Call toll-free: 1-800-229-3505.

Email Gerry McGovern at [email protected]
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