The Right Package for the Right Information

I couldn’t be more excited to join the Circa team as “Founding Editor.” Part of the excitement is because, as the title suggests, it’s not your average editorial job. There are elements to the editorial process of Circa that will be unique. They will be defined and perhaps redefined as we go. That’s the nature of working for an organization whose mission isn’t to excel at the traditions of journalism but to redefine them altogether. As such, it gives me the opportunity to question all assumptions, attempt new organizational structures and more.

I want to be open and upfront about our thinking and the direction Circa is taking as we go. Since we are in stealth right now there isn’t anything too specific or meaty to discuss in this post. But more will come and as Circa takes shape the posts will elaborate on our decisions and the reasoning behind them. So stay tuned. For now, I wanted to highlight a key point that is central to Circa’s core.

At PaidContent 2012 John Borthwick of BetaWorks gave an intriguing insight that I think speaks directly to the area that Circa is diving into. Borthwick told publishers to…

stop thinking about what they produce as “content,” and start thinking about it as “information.” The problem with the word content is that it tends to focus attention on the package or the container for that content, Borthwick said, and the package part of the media business is the aspect that is being disrupted the most.

The language change is minimal – from “content” to “information,” but the subtle shift alters how we think about a product and how users can engage with it.

Creating “content” implies a certain packaging. We are producing “video” content or “text” content. Even “multimedia” content denotes a packaging with a pretty bow for the consumers to appreciate. If information, as they say, wants to be free – then it can be packaged in unique ways that content cannot.

As I read it, Borthwick is suggesting that information has an inherent value. While content, as we traditionally think of it, is chock filled with information its value isn’t inherent but manufactured and mediated for the audience.

There will be much to discover at Circa but at the heart of it I believe Circa will value information over content.