Content management has gotten a lot of press in recent years in the context of publishing systems for large, content-rich web sites. But as a concept, content management has been around in the media and publishing industries for several years. It is the necessary technology infrastructure for media businesses that want to leverage their most important asset -- their content -- for maximum revenue and brand exposure.

The most important elements of content management systems are:

1. A centralized, strategic repository for digital content of all types (audio, video, text, page, still image, etc.) and formats

2. A set of processes for loading the content into the repository and cataloging it

3. A way of searchi ng for a nd retrieving content from the repository.

Here is the essence of content management's strategic fit in a media company:

What is “managed” content? Managing content imbues it with several desirable properties, including:

Integration: all types of data -- text, image, composed pages, audio, video, interactive, and mixed-media content can be stored in one logical place.

Acquisition automation: manual labor in cataloging and indexing content objects when they are entered into the system is minimized, if not totally eliminated.

Availability: content can be accessed at any client device equipped with the proper software and connected to the network.

Accessibility: it is easy to find content according to its inherent characteristics, without having to rely on file and directory naming conventions.

Process fit: client software integrates smoothly with popular content creation and production tools and processes.

Repurposability: content is maintained at the highest practical resolution or in flexible data formats, so that it can be easily converted to multiple product and distribution formats.

Protection: content is accessible only to those with proper permission, and where relevant, its rights are managed. Protection also involves maintaining data integrity through backups and other means, and resistance to outside access through firewalls and other security mechanisms.

Using a content management system involves three steps:

  • Loading and storing content into the repository.
  • Finding content from a browser on the desktop.
  • Using the content for editing, routing in a workflow, or distribution through electronic channels.

This is the first step:

In this step, if content is in physical form, it is converted to digital form through such means as scanners and video encoders. If it is already in digital form, it is loaded directly into the repository. During the loading process, attributes that describe the piece of content are created. Examples of metadata might include author, title, version, format, timecode, caption, keywords, etc. Some metadata attributes can be extracted automatically, while others must be input manually. After metadata creation, the content management system stores both the metadata and content in the central repository.

The next two steps in a typical content management process are finding a desired piece of content and then retrieving and using it in some way:

In this example, a user issues a query against the repository. The query returns a series of descriptions of content, which include images. The user selects one of the pieces of content and then retrieves it in its full-resolution form. The user could also send the content object to another user, another process in a production workflow, or an electronic distribution channel.




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