Digital content is any content that exists in the form of digital data. Also known as digital media, digital content is stored on digital or analog storage in specific formats. Forms of digital content include information that is digitally broadcast, streamed, or contained in computer files. Viewed narrowly, digital content includes popular media types, while a broader approach considers any type of digital information (e. g. digitally updated weather forecasts, GPS maps, and so on) as digital content.
Digital content has increased as more households have accessed the Internet. Increased access has made it easier for people to receive their news and watch TV online, challenging the popularity of traditional platforms. Increased access to the Internet has also led to the mass publication of digital content through individuals in the form of eBooks, blog posts, and even Facebook posts.
At the beginning of the Digital Revolution, computers facilitated the discovery, retrieval, and creation of new information in every field of human knowledge. As information became increasingly more accessible, the Digital Revolution also facilitated the creation of digital content. Despite an evolution to digital technology, which occurred somewhere between the late 1950s and 1970s, distribution of digital content did not begin until the late 1990s with the rise in popularity of the Internet.
In the past, digital content was primarily distributed through computers and the Internet, yet methods of distribution are rapidly changing as the Digital Revolution brings new channels, such as mobile apps and eBooks. These new technologies will create challenges for content creators, as they determine the best channel to bring content to their consumers.
Despite the benefits, new technologies have created new intellectual property issues. Users can easily share, modify, and redistribute content outside of the creator's control. While new technologies have made digital content available to large audiences, managing copyright and limiting content movement will continue to be an issue that digital content creators face in the future.
In order to have access to more premium digital goods, consumers usually have to pay an upfront charge for digital content, or a subscription based fee.
According to a report done by IHS Inc. in 2013, the global consumer spending on digital content grew to over $57 billion in 2013, which was up almost 30% from $44 billion in 2012. In past years, the US has always been a leader in consumer expenditure on digital content, but as of 2013, many countries have emerged with great consumer expenditure. South Korea's overall digital spend per capita is now greater than the US.
Not all digital content is purchasable, and is simply anything published digitally. This would include:
Digital content businesses can include news, information, and entertainment distributed over the Internet and consumed digitally by both consumers and businesses. Based off revenue, the leading digital businesses are ranked Google, China Mobile, Bloomberg, Reed Elsevier, and Apple. The 50 companies with the highest revenue are split between those offering free and paid digital content, but these top 50 companies combined generate revenue of $150 billion.
Educational Opportunities Programs such as CUNY's Macaulay Honors College in their New Media Lab run by industry professional Robert Small is set up to train and introduce students to the various disciplines within the digital content industry. The goal is to offer information and access to professional work opportunities. They also explore within an incubator how to create businesses and start ups within the world of digital content. There are many educational events in support of choosing digital content as a career.
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