A content creation model that generates large-scale content is gaining ground on the Net. This edition of NetSpeak discusses the features of this new on-line phenomenon.

It is well known that Net is a firehose of content on almost all subjects one can think of. Content creation happens through a variety of means that include general web portals, special web sites, Q&A services, video hosting services, social networking applications and the like.

However, the existing content creation models suffer from one inherent weakness, that is, lack of focus on the market needs.

The content author creates a piece with the assumption that his/her piece would meet an information requirement. This theme selection, based simply on assumptions/hunches, lacks enough data backing and is certainly unscientific.

So, a content creation model that understands the market needs and heeds to it would certainly fetch rich dividends.

This is the premise on which the new content generation model, sometimes derisively known as content farms or mills, operates.

The hallmark of a service that comes under the purview of content farms refers to its daily production of numerous pieces on a range of subjects with minimum cost. Of course, this mass production of content does not happen mechanically. The service analyses the market needs and generates content accordingly. Of course, there are a variety of means to comprehend the market needs. One major input source for this is the search query databases from popular search services that contain details of searches already made by netizens. These days, whenever one has information need, he/she invokes a search on Google or Bing or some other search engine.

Obviously, a search presumes a market need and a search string can be used as a proxy to comprehend it. So, the idea is to mine this search query database, arrive at appropriate story ideas and generate content based on them. The expectation is that a market responsive content ought to have an assured readership/viewership.

The questions that surface on popular Q&A services could be another source for comprehending the market requirement.

The uniqueness of the content farm model is that the story ideas are generated automatically via software tools and registered authors select appropriate themes and produce the relevant content. As the piece is relevant to the market, most probably, it would attract people and bring in sufficient traffic/advertisement revenue to the publisher. The popularity gained by many services that embrace this content creation model underlines the growing acceptance of it. For instance, Demand Media (http://www.demandmedia.com), a content provider who received enormous media attention recently (positive and negative), hosts multiple sites on different themes. These services include eHow (for ‘how to' videos), Answer Bag (a Q&A site) and LiveStrong (for health/fitness). Seed (http://www.seed.com/) is yet another content generation infrastructure that functions in this model. This content network runs several content channels for a variety of subjects that include technology, finance and entertainment.

Unlike general content providers such as ‘Demand Media', that offer all types of content, services focussing on specific niche markets are also in place. Suite 101 (http://www.suite101.com/), which specialises in publishing introductory articles on different subjects, is a good example.

Here, one can find several simple/easy-to-comprehend, introductory type articles on heterogeneous subjects/themes.

The Howcast (http://www.howcast.com/) service, which focuses solely on ‘how to' videos, is another mass content producer trying to gain foothold in a niche (video) segment.

Like any other Net phenomena, the concept of content farms also has its own share of critics. Many fear that content farms would result in the flooding of Net with quality compromised content (http://internetsyndication.org/reports/journal/issue010/index.html). Though this apprehension could be genuine, it should not deter us from seeing the model's innovative nature. The real significance of this type of content generation platform is that it enhances the inclusion of more experts in the content creation process.

In this process, even subjects with low-demand could find experts to handle them. Of course, content should be from genuine authors with enough credentials and it should pass through the usual editorial rigour. And as regards the quality issue, the market could correct it automatically and only the fittest would survive in the long run.

Free e-books

As mentioned in the past, a plethora of freely downloadable e-books pertaining to wide ranging subjects are available on the Net. To help us find relevant e-books, several e-book directories are in place like the directory ‘Get free ebooks' (http://www.getfreeebooks.com/). Now, if you are looking for free science books, take a look at the ‘Free scientific books' portal (http://sciyo.com/) that hosts links to several books and articles pertaining to scientific subjects for free.

He can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com