When there is content available, our interest in it is mainly based on whether it is relevant to our immediate need. Sure, we put things away for future reference. But that just anticipates arriving later at the point where the content needs to measure up.
Chances are very good that the first audience for that saved content will be ourselves. But that can quickly expand to other people, because our relationship with them may be why we kept something in the first place.
Naturally, whenever we expose the content again, we want to know whether the right people are in the audience. We casually say “audience” with a good degree of comfort. But it’s sometimes very painful to discover that the actual audience turns out to be different from what we meant.
To minimize that gap, understand the differences that can make things appropriate or inappropriate for the user’s intent. In the list of differences, all content is already finished content usable for future reference.
To start with, there are three different perspectives involved in deciding what should actually be accessible, and to what extent.
When a producer comes up with an item of content, the item is just one step along the path that finally puts it at the point of access given to a user.
The next step considers the rights of the content owner; and finally the provider looks at how closely matched the item’s presentable content needs to be to the requester’s need.
Overall, the path addresses the question of whether the item is supposed to be accessible in the way that it is exposed. The right answer to that question can be defined as a policy or set of rules, and the rules can be offered as a standard condition in effect when a request is made.
This is not a new idea for most content managers. But many requesters have no way of knowing what rules are in effect. The perception of what can be provided from a collection is worth managing by promoting an expectation, instead of allowing a disappointment.
The most consistent way to promote the desired expectation is to make it official as a type of catalog, or even more specifically, as a portfolio, of items having similar access. The portfolio advertises why the content will be accessible.
That still allows many different situations and users to make requests. However, in the portfolio, additional filtering of which items to expose or hold back can be defined for the individual items.
A typical additional filter is to define when and for how long the content will be accessible.
And a final control on access is to designate specific users with privileges. Designated users can be individuals or groups.
If most of the above sounds familiar, the reason may be that we already have a lot of experience being subscribers to content channels or publications. The benefit of the subscriptions and the channels is that we know what to expect in advance, which increases the confidence we have when we use them. The intended value of the content is closely aligned to the kind of access that is provided.