Sunday, March 2, 2008

QOTD: Michael Idinopulos on publishing

From Michael Idinopulos's Transparent Office blog:

I think of this as the dawn of the "Work in Progress" culture. We no longer think that something has to be finished before we let strangers into the conversation.


Peg Boyles said...

Yeah! One good reason to stop calling it "content."

Anonymous said...

That's a heck of a good point. I like to call it "stuff" but people look at me funny when I call it that.

So what should we call it?

Peg Boyles said...

I like this verbiage, from Doc Searls' blog (that famous post proclaiming "The Net is a Giant Zero")

“Content” is inert. It isn't alive. It doesn't grow, or catch fire, or go viral. Ideas and insights do that. Interesting facts do that. “Audiences” are passive. They sit still, clap and leave. That might be what happened in classrooms and with newspapers and radio and TV in the old [mainstream media]-controlled world, but it's not what happens on The Giant Zero. It's not what happens [online]. Here it's all about contribution, participation. It involves conversation, but it goes beyond that into relationship—with readers, with viewers, with the larger ecosystem by which we all inform each other.

Peg Boyles said...

I like calling it conversation, which flattens hierarchies, describes two-way and multi-party communication, and implies a back-and-forth that doesn't have to end with a single post or "article."

"Content," after all, derives from the same Latin roots as the word "container."

The Web ain't no container. Unlike a book or a magazine, which have crisp, hard edges, weight, mass and volume--and hence may appear to contain something--the Web has no boundaries, no edges, no volume, mass or weight. No part of it begins or ends.

Conversation, on the other hand, derives from the Latin words con=with and uersari=to turn around

So,"conversation" carries with it the sense of movement and of turning ideas around together, to look at the topic from varied perspectives. [Mindfulness research has shown that information processed by varying one’s perspective, questioning expert ideas, and finding ways to make the information relevant to oneself helps keep information fresh and active in a reader’s mind, and available for creative use in novel contexts.]

As someone who edits other people's words as a big part of my daily job, I've learned that most writers (esp. subject-matter experts) think of writing as an act of filling a space with words and ideas, i.e., producing content.

The word content carries within it the idea of a fixed amount of material, a fixed perspective and generally speaking, a wad of information held together by single point of view fixed by the writer.

Producing content often assumes that the expert will disgorge what s/he “knows” and others want to “learn,” whereas having a conversation invites readers to wrestle with the subject matter, view it from varying angles and ask questions of it using the writer’s words and ideas a fulcrum or a jumping-off point.

Enough for now.

Anonymous said...

I totally buy your thinking. Which fits incredibly well with Dave Snowden's comment.

Although I never talk about work here it might be interesting to see what some of our colleagues have to say.

BTW, did I tell you I had lunch with Doc back in November?