What is Content Delivery?

Vishnu in his avatar of Matsya (the fish), delivering the ark carrying humanity and the Vedas from the deluge.

Look up Content Delivery in all the standard informative places and they will talk about the delivery of media content, and about the almost equivalent and mostly overlapping field of content distribution. All quite dry and academic, really, but I think almost everyone today needs to have a deeper and more intimate understanding of the tasks, issues, tools and challenges of content delivery, because increasingly we are all part of its wide scope.

If you think about it, we human beings are all about exchanging things, and most of the time those “things” are not physical. We exchange information, like someone asking you for the time as you walk down a street; We exchange memories, like two friends talking about their mutual love of monkeys at the zoo when they were children; We exchange entertainment, like people attending an open-mic night at a comedy club. All the examples I’ve mentioned include the content or information being bartered or transmitted in person, but while word of mouth or conversation or stage performance are valid mediums of delivery, there are many more. Every last telephone call, fax, letter in a perfumed envelope, poke over a social network and streaming media launch extravaganza online is a form of content delivery.

Content delivery, quite simply, is a study and understanding of how information goes from one person to the another. This could be a casual private exchange or a mass broadcasting of entertainment from the creators to the ultimate audience. Content delivery is complex, like your international sports event, whose rights are owned by one major media network in the originating country and then shared through affiliates and syndication deals through out the globe; And it can be simple, like your paper-boy tossing a crisp morning edition against your door as he rushes past on his rounds.

Today, when we mention content delivery, the internet plays a big part in our discussion, because it is now an all encompassing medium that has taken over our homes, or work-places and our pockets, through the revolution in mobile communications and computing devices. Content delivery is also now of more general interest because the internet has created the ability for regular people to be producers and distributors of content themselves, without the need for media companies and conglomerates of syndicates. The internet has democratised the publishing and distribution of media to unprecedented levels and the technologies for doing so (content management systems and their ilk) are now accessible to all, and hence of importance for all to understand.

Content delivery can be thought of as a narrow band of technologies and methodologies most related to the world of mass communication and broadcasting, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about the distribution of the most exchanged of human things, information. Content is just a fancy word for stuff, ideas. And so content delivery isn’t some esoteric academic subject, or some meaningless business jargon for large entities to fluff up their annual reports and press releases with; Content delivery is the web that underlies all of human life. Content delivery is everything.