The Future Of Content Is Context

by , Feb 1, 2013, 8:15 AM
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“In the future,” Andy Warhol famously said, “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Well, that future has already come and gone. We now live in the next future -- the one where everyone pays attention for 15 seconds.
 
Fortunately, today’s ultra-connected consumers are equipped with the perfect technology for on-the-go people who have short attention spans: mobile devices.
 
Mobile devices that pack unbelievably strong sensors. Touchscreens, cameras, microphones, GPS, compass, gyroscope -- and wireless Internet. Combine all that with speed, sleek handsets and always-on, running-in-the-background capabilities and what do you get?
 
For starters, you get a new computing model. You also get a total revolution in the media-cultural-social-economic atmosphere. t’s changing how we live. How we work. How we socialize. How we communicate. How we shop, learn, have fun, and even how we think and feel and perceive.
 
The era of the four-hour, widescreen epic is over. The day (or nanosecond) of the “flash fact” presented on a handheld screen is here — whether it’s a tweet or an app or a digitally delivered news headline.
 
Question: how can a “flash fact” possibly be worthwhile? And by consuming an endless series of flash facts on our mobile devices every day, are we just gorging ourselves on empty content, high-calorie candy -- when we really should be consuming more long-form, deep-content vegetables?
 
Actually, no. Flash facts can be just as nutritious as long-form media. Why? Because long-form media creates its own context. Today’s mobile media figures out what’s going on in your life and makes you the context.
 
Let me explain. Do you know the difference between trivia and an important fact? You guess it: context.
 
Suppose you’re in the middle of Times Square. Somebody remarks that you can make an improvised compass from a needle by magnetizing it. Who cares? It’s meaningless trivia. But if you’re lost in the woods and all you’ve got is a needle, suddenly that same fact becomes a lifesaver. It is extremely valuable information -- “significa.”
 
Popular mobile devices present bite-sized chunks of information. But great mobile platforms present those bites at just the right time, and just the right place, in just the right way to be useful to you, with your specific tastes, habits, preferences, friends, history and location.
 
Rain expected later today in the Midwest? Who cares? But rain expected at 1:45 pm on the corner of 33rd and Madison, which is exactly where you’re going to be in 15 minutes? That’s useful information.
 
The future of mobile media content is fun, friendly platforms, apps and programs that deliver situationally-aware, hyper-personalized, bite-sized facts (preferably told in pictures) to individual consumers at precisely the right moment.
 
Content is king. But context is queen.

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