Interview with Alexander Felsenberg

“Government putting all the information on the Net”

How would you define e-Content in Germany?

Any output that the user can use is e-content. It is content produced by an author or a group of authors and applications, that lets the user, interact and derive results from such interactions

“Since there is substantial content in German that is useful and entertaining, interactive media is very popular”

What’s the status of e-content in Germany?

Since there is substantial content in German that is useful and entertaining, interactive media is very popular. Limits are only financial. Paying for content did not pick up in the B-C market, most of the financing came from advertising. The German Mulitmedia Assocociation (DMMV/BVDW) in cooperation with the German Bureau of Circulation has established a reliable method for counting the real amount of use (Page Impressions, Visits), see . The AGOF, another organisation of the DMMV/BVDW has released reliable media data on the reach and target group of the Internet. With the help of this, agencies can structure their Internet budget.

A small portion of the content is financed by subscription. The B-B content segment uses pay-per-use in special fields. In the content publishing market the revenue from the internet, using pay-per-use and subscription models, accounts for 0,4 % of the total turnover and is growing slowly.
Which area of e-content (e-health, e-biz, e-culture, e-government, e-entertainment, e-learning, e-science, and e-inclusion) is best developed in Germany?

The best content is always the one that is linked to advertising, business usage as well as magazines. E-Business, e-health, e-entertainment are coming up fast, as are e-learning and e-government. The newly implemented regulation makes it mandatory for public institutions to provide barrier-free websites mandatory, making e-inclusion the order of the day. Websites will therefore have to keep innovating on design and technology and be equipped with special tools, like reading or magnifying software.

Which sector (business, private sector, government or civil society) in Germany is advanced in developing e-content?

The private sector, especially advertising media was the first to use Internet as a new communication medium, followed by the civil society. Finally it is the government which is giving the final boost putting just about all the information onto the Net and thereby becoming the biggest supporter for the use of the Internet.

How would you describe the gradual progress of development of e-content in Germany?

“Lack of know-how in finding good content and the paucity of good eContent search engines hampered growth”

The first use of e-content dates back to 1994 in company information and advertising and the beginning of online magazines and newspapers. From 1996 e-commerce came into the web, content management systems made it publication easy and there was rapid growth in this segment. In 1998, web-applications like web mail and auctioning began. Web search had been there since the very beginning and had been dominated by altavista and yahoo as wall as local search engines like DINO. By the turn of the century the internet e-Content business / application reached its peek through price finders, auctions, financial portals, webs pace, web mail and online publications. In the new millennium, few survived the big consolidation. Only those who had networked well did. Not surprisingly, the most sustainable eContent and applications especially in the e-business field grew out of this.

What major initiatives have influenced the development of e-content in Germany?

The Ministry for Economy encouraged the growth of e-content by sponsoring awards and information material like the Deutscher Internet Preis, Mobile Media, Internet 2005. Companies like Siemens have been sponsoring awards like the Join Multimedia Award since 1996. The award has now become popular all over Europe. The Ministry also provided valuable information in the Internet Report, 2005 and Monitoring Information Society.

What are the major bottlenecks in the path of e-content development in Germany?

Lack of know-how in finding good content and the paucity of good eContent search engines hampered growth.

In most countries, especially developing, e-content development is significantly dependent on ICT infrastructure and ICT facilities. But, in some, ICT has become pervasive and e-content development is primarily subjected to the initiatives of an individual/organization/government, etc. What is the situation in Germany?

The Internet is used by 55% of the population; only certain groups are not using the Internet such as people from age 50 and older and people with low education profile. Public access and public WiFi should be improved, but other than that the Internet is omnipresent in daily life.

“E-government and the health sector are the future upcoming markets”

How would you describe the ICT scenario in Germany in terms of infrastructure, penetration, and policies?

The Internet is considered to be the fourth mass-medium, after Newspaper/Magazines, Cinema, Radio/TV. But it is the first individualised mass-medium. Due to saturation of potential user base, only 55% of the inhabitants use it with a decreasing growth rate. The war of eyeballs is obvious, the TV and Internet both vying for attention. Interactive Television is coming into being through the same distribution channels of cable network and ADSL. The Internet has become a daily helper for everybody. In any B-C commerce, there are links to the Internet for further information in the pre-sales and after-sales support activities. Even public and official activities outsource information to the Internet (eGovernemet). It is there, it is alive and it changes the media and advertising business for good. In schools, pupils from grade seven are actively getting trained in computer literacy.
What’s the future of e-content in Germany?

The future is very bright. E-government and the health sector are the future upcoming markets. Since data protection is a big issue, executives in the public and private sectors will have to tackle the challenges in the technical and legislative fields.
How do you recognise the best e-content practices in your country?

The Deutscher Multimedia Award (DMMA) involving all forms of interactive media has been in vogue for the last ten years. The nominations would have to be in German and regardless of the March 2005 deadline, be published within a year. A pre-selection was conducted by a media school to assess technical and content quality. The final selection was made by the grand jury comprising media experts and representatives from other industries. One third of the jury each year brings in new faces.

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