After taking a look at how communication has changed with technology throughout history and how to focus on what really matters today, futurist David Houle now examines the big trend in media consumption—content vs. context—that will drive the next decade.
"Content is king"—this is a phrase that, while very true, became a cliché in the Information Age once it was clear we were in a world of information, knowledge and, yes, content. The underlying idea was and still is that creating and owning content was of supreme importance, particularly in the world of entertainment and media. If you owned the rights, you were king, had influence and could become very wealthy.
There are many examples to illustrate this point. Once George Lucas created Star Wars, every door in Hollywood was open to him, because he had created a content franchise. When Norman Lear created all of his great sitcoms in the 1970s—such as All in the Family and The Jeffersons—he not only changed the face of television: He sat atop a kingdom of content that plays to this day somewhere in the world. When J.K. Rowling created the character and world of Harry Potter, she changed the reading habits of children, gave a huge shot of life to the publishing industry, launched a major movie franchise and, oh yes, became the second-richest woman in Great Britain, after the Queen of England.
The 1980s, 1990s and the early part of this century saw the creation of literally hundreds of cable channels around the world, all thirsty for programming—again, content. You heard the phrase "content is king" on the lips of every person in the entertainment and media businesses all the time. Why? It was true. Actually, the phrase should have been "Good content is king," as all the above examples are of good content.
We are now in an age of information overload. As I wrote about dealing with information overload, we have moved from information being of value to attention being what creates value today and in the future. Our attention creates the value for the information. If a lot of people give their attention to a particular website, that information is valued more than a website that gets little or no attention.
Content is no longer king; the phrase of today is, "Context is king."