December 08, 2000, 3:29 PM — UNCONTROLLABLE GROWTH and a proliferation of new job types muddy the Internet
economy's employment picture. All the new job types -- from Web content manager to
Internet researcher to e-business evangelist -- can be put into one of three
categories: content, infrastructure, or business. Each job classification poses a
unique set of benefits, prospects, and trade-offs. A professional knowledgeable of
trends in all three divisions will be in a good position to negotiate with prospective
employers and will be able to better determine the course of his or her career.
Without content, what's the point?
Content providers always will have a place in the Internet economy, for without
content, the Net is an empty shell. Although editorial or graphic talent is necessary,
it alone is not sufficient for career success. What may surprise some are the varied
job titles that make up this category: animator, computer-aided designer, copywriter,
icon designer, multimedia director, photographer, sound designer, translator,
typography designer, videographer, virtual reality artist, and writer.
Think of the unique attributes that the Net imposes on everything it touches:
digitalization, interactivity, multimedia, and personalization. If you can be creative,
preferably outrageous, while seamlessly delivering interactivity and editorial or
graphics, you can achieve career success in content development.
At this point in the Internet career evolution, content is boring; infrastructure
is sexy. That's the way it is for now, but it won't be for long. The Internet's
inexorable logic soon will reverse this condition.
Content is the edge
Content developers will be amply rewarded, and here's why: In the Net economy,
technological advantage simply cannot be sustained. All technology, no matter how
revolutionary when first created, eventually devolves into a commodity. Furthermore, in
the Net economy the value of commodities eventually approaches zero. Any work building
an IT infrastructure -- say a great online stock-trading infrastructure -- will be
copied and enhanced by someone else.
Content, separate and apart from the technology, will not suffer from that
particular dynamic. Whereas great technology can and will be replicated in the digital
world, great content providers are unique. Many organizations with mature
infrastructures have figured this out. America Online is busy acquiring the content of
Time Warner; Sony and Yahoo are spending big bucks buying media companies or creating
their own original content.