Is content king?

I have really been wanting to write about this news article ever since I saw it some time back. The company, Demand Media moved to #24 in the comScore top 50 web properties in the US, owns eHow.com, Pluck and eNom, and has succeeded in attracting 31 million unique page views in July, 2009. Since then, the October 2009 report shows them climbing to #16 with 51mn unique visitors. Interestingly, Wikimedia group sites climbed to 69mn from 62mn across these two months. Looking at the lists, we can see Fox, Ask network, answers.com etc pretty much near the top with the leaders consistently being Google, Yahoo, MS, AOL and Facebook. Twitter was somewhere in the top 100 in July, perhaps still there in October.

Structured content based sites seem to be garnering the market share at least in terms of unique visitors, well above and beyond social media sites such as Twitter. (Disclaimer: comScore doesn’t provide too much intelligence on its methodology or definitions, though, and I am not able to search-verify its accuracy on these reports.)

What interested me about Demand Media was that it’s site eHow.com is a repository of how-to (and other types of) articles contributed by users who also get paid for their contribution. They back this up with editorial teams pumping in and reviewing content as well.  Seems to be over a million pieces of content already in there with claims of being the #1 contributor to You Tube.

So, there is a structured content enterprise that is, in terms of access, somewhere in between search and social tools such as Twitter (with the notable exception of Facebook), and has a working business model.

Is this the face of how learning could possibly look in the future? Content by the community, of the community and for the community – a marketplace not overtly one – powered by advertising (and enrolments?) rather than, or in addition to, by direct trade in/collaborative interaction in learning experiences – augmented by search, exploration and collaboration tools that we know today?

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