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What is 'content'?

What is content?   
Content can refer to anything from movies to photos. Photo courtesy of Brett Jordan, used under the CC BY 2.0 license.

In the context of connected homes, the word 'content' almost always refers to the content of different media, including:

  • movies
  • music
  • games
  • photos

Content is the stuff that entertains you - it's what audio visual or home theatre setups are designed to allow you to appreciate. A good home theatre system will let you appreciate movies, games and music at their best, and will store and manage your content in a way that allows you to access it quickly and easily.

What is content management?

If you've ever had a large CD or DVD collection (or even if you own a lot of books or magazines), you'll understand why content management's such a big deal. Nowadays a lot of us have thousands upon thousands of MP3s, movies and TV shows in our collections - having a system that manages them is essential to ensuring that they're easily found, and available at the push of a button. A good content management or media management system will allow easy access to all of your media, wherever it's required.

Meta-tags and indexing

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Most types of digital content files feature the ability to add 'tags'. Tags are small bits of information that can be used to categorise and arrange content for easy retrieval. MP3 music files, for example, use a system called ID3 tagging, which allows each file to be tagged with information including:

  • the song's name
  • the artist's or band's name
  • the name of the album the song is originally from
  • the track number
  • the genre of music
  • the year the song was released

When searching through a music or content library, these tags allow you to quickly and effectively find or sort music or create themed playlists, perhaps based on a particular artist or genre. Movie files can be tagged and sorted in a similar way. MP3 files can also feature 'album art' - embedding a small thumbnail image of the album cover in the file.

Another way that content can be made searchable is through 'indexing'. Content management tools can periodically search your storage devices, figure out what sort of media is where, and categorise and present it in a neat, familiar and logical way.

Integrated content management

Smart homes that integrate many different audio-visual components can give you easy access to all of your media, regardless of where in the house you are or what device you feel like using. You may be able to play the same movie in the kitchen as you're playing in the home theatre room, for instance - or a completely different one.

You may also be able to use your smartphone while you're lying next to the pool to search through a music library and fire up a playlist on your outdoor audio system. A good media management system will allow effortless integration of your media between all of your devices, and will even allow you to access all of your content from a completely different location, over the internet.

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