Relinquishing Control of Content Delivery and Context

In the latest issue of A List Apart, Cameron Koczon writes about the state of "orbital content"—where "individual users are the gravitational center and content floats in orbit around them." Users have tremendous control over how they consume content. Applications like Instapaper push the boundaries established by RSS and Google Alerts because they can republish content in other mediums, altering context. This raises challenging questions for publishers as well as higher education institutions. How do we plan for our "content shifting"? How do we enable it to be shared while being mindful of ownership, rights and our messaging goals?

Publishers have had the ability to make their content flexible for over a decade. RSS makes it easy to share content feeds with subscribers, saving them the trouble of constantly checking back in. Recently, a series of bookmarklet apps have been slowly transferring the responsibility of making content flexible from the publisher to the user. Leading the charge of this transfer is Instapaper, which has garnered a great deal of praise for doing something called "content shifting."

Source: Orbital Content by Cameron Koczon, A List Apart, April 19, 2011

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About Rick Allen

Rick Allen has worked in higher education for over twelve years, helping to shape web communications and content strategy. As principal of ePublish Media, Inc, a web publishing and content strategy consultancy in Boston, Mass., Rick works with knowledge-centric organizations to create and sustain effective web content. Keep going »


  1. Jeff Dillon says:

    Funnily enough, Instapaper was the tool I used to save the link for this article from my Twitter feed. I also use it to bundle articles I find during the day and want to read later on my Kindle… Useful to me, but devastating to the page-view based business model.

    • Hi Jeff:

      Thanks for sharing that example. Funny.

      I’ve been talking about this Orbital Content post all week. It has really put me in the mindset of content delivery and context. This will be an increasingly hot topic in 2011.

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