Friday, August 27, 2010

Context, content and getting over ourselves...

I am a huge fan of Lucas Gonze's weblog, where he wrote something recently which strikes me as quite profound.
Keep music from the web in the web. Don't go to a music blog, download a track, and then listen in iTunes.
Instead, he advocates bookmarking and playing music in the page that contains it, once again returning to fundamental link between URI and resource, between index and content.

What, for that matter, is a Content Management System? The term is a necessary evil; it's not like it is meaningless. But when you use this term to refer to WordPress or Blogger, I get an uneasy feeling, and reading Gonze's comment really cemented for me the reason why. The text on the page in front of you? It's not content. It's context. The page may provide content, but it is itself a context for whatever content it provides.

More on this later, just passing around the lightbulb moment, as it were.


Tartra the eight cuts gallery zine said...

This is an interesting point in the debate about free content. If we make our work available for free, one way people can "pay" for it is to read/hear it on our own sites. That's not just content as you say, but it makes them familar with our site, it means they come back to us, that they will be more likely to browse, to look at what else we do, to follow our links. And most of all, if they share ourt work, sharing the URL rather than just the file will bring others to us, and create a much greater chance of making us true fans. How you get people to do that, of course...

Of course the other thing that will do is increase any revenue from ads driven by traffic

piers said...

Yeah, this was an eye-opening moment for me, I think because I had not before considered the debate in the terms of content and context in this way: the restructuring which is taking place in the media and music industry concerns the way distribution takes place, and in this sense, context is as valuable as content. I am thinking providing context is somewhat equivalent to stapling up gig posters.

Tartra the eight cuts gallery zine said...

One of the things that has got me a lot of flak both at Year Zero and eight cuts gallery press (always, interestingly, from people who aren't our natural readers, from the established presses etc) is my refusal to put ISBNs on my books, or the eight cuts gallery press books. I think what this discussion has done is given me the vocab to articulate one of the reasons. I knew I didn't want our books to be available on Amazon, and I don't want B&N selling them. The idea was that the books would sell like merch to true fans, and that people would have to go either to our site, or to a very small number of outlets that we had hand-picked (to give value to the outlets and to us). I think the idea of context is what was actually behind that - creating a sense of community around what we do, and ensuring people who want our stuff get it from within that community.

piers said...

"Gatekeepers" has reecently become an obscenity (against the scene, ha!), but perhaps context-keeper is more suited for polite use. People who keep that candle burning brightly, to use Bronwen Wallace's analogy.

I sense an intense ambivalence in what you are describing, and possibly my initial thought, which I am tempted to descibe as transclusive: how do you release something to your public without any fetters, while maintaining enough control over distribution to ensure that the black hats don't hijack your intent.

Strictly speaking, the transclusive dilemma is this: when I make a copy, do I want to make a strict reference to the original (reflection), or a clone of the original. Open source viral licensing is a reasonable attempt to find a middle ground between reflection and clone, virus.

The paradox of course comes from the uncertainty involved - I can never be completely sure I won't need to change the original, and how I will want this to ripple into either clone or reflection.

It's quite poetic really... read Bronwen Wallace, and/or Ted Nelson.