Content, having reached the age of majority, has left home and is out trying to make its own way in the world. Some “digital parents” are reflexively clutching at their wayward bits, trying to keep on the on the home site. Others are preparing for the all-but-inevitable day, right around the corner, when content grows up and lives on its own, occasionally calling home to say hello and see if there are any updates.
We are on the cusp of what Steve Rubel terms the Cut and Paste Web. In this version of the web — the building blocks are already there — you can “you can take any piece of online content that you care about – a news feed, an image, a box score, multimedia, a stream of updates from your friends – and easily pin it wherever you want.”
Rubel, who writes for Advertising Age, offers three strategies for thriving in this new era where content is consumed in places far removed from the web site:
- Think web services, not websites
- Connect people
- Make everything portable
As our profession evolves from being gatekeepers to publishers of information, we need to work more actively to expand the ways our patrons use what we have. Or would use it, if only it were offered. Any online tool we build or buy for our library’s patrons should be able to provide the same functionality in another venue. Our databases should be searchable (with authentication, of course, where required) from anywhere our patrons want. If someone is building a wiki on a subject, relevant search results should be included right there, live from the database. Ditto for the library catalog, without the authentication. And the same is true for any other tool we offer our patrons in an online environment. Of course, these tools should be equally accessible on a cell phone as on a full PC-based web browser. And the output of patron research should be available in open formats — so it can be reused and republished. Licensing of content needs to reflect the realities of use, not the other way around.
Rubel concludes as follows: “In the very near future portals including iGoogle, My Yahoo and Netvibes as well as social networks will be able to easily inhale the smallest pieces of content from across the web. Don’t wait. Start now to make everything on your website embeddable. Traffic is becoming something that happens elsewhere, not just on your site.” Syndication is the next wave of innovation.