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“We Don’t Want Everything For Free, We Just Want Everything” – Gautam John, Pratham Books

The notion of control over content is no longer relevant in the age of digital media, Gautam John of Akshara Foundation (Pratham Books), said during a session at IndiaSocial 2012, pointing towards community driven content creation initiatives. Britanica’s decision to stop the print edition of its encyclopedia, according to him, reflects this change, with Wikipedia gaining prominence: Wikipedia integrates a conversation loop, with editors talking to each other, keeping content as current as possible, and this is also a manifestation of the line between professionals and amateurs getting blurred, since the same tools are available to everyone; everyone can now become a content producer.

The content ecosystem is moving toward being more people centric, and “With digital, it’s easier to copy content, and ‘geography is now history’, so the content lifecycle, which is all about creation, distribution, consumption and conversation around it, needs to accelerate conversation and amplify it, rather than trying to curb distribution.” Nostalgia, though, will always have a premium’ and that the older model of content could move to address that segment.

On Piracy: “We don’t want everything for free, we just want everything”

Touching on piracy, John said that the root cause of piracy was content being not available – “We don’t want everything for free, we just want everything”. He talked about how content aggregators were not focusing on making content available through their channels, putting artificial regional and technical restrictions, while the bit-torrent store is always open. He also talked about open standards to allow content consumption irrespective of technical distinctions. Stressing on the need for accessibility, he said that we need to include everyone, be it visually impaired or print impaired.

On content consumption, John said, that its increasingly becoming personalized but despite that we now have the ability to transcend it to a group activity . The buzzword, ‘viral’ is a result of the spread through word of mouth, which holds the key to content consumption, he said. He concluded by giving a message that gatekeepers of content should move to being curators of content, moving their focus from protecting to sharing.

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