Content Creation and the Internet

That's a picture of blog readership - or, at least, of quick peeks - recorded since May of this year. You can see I've had some hits from the U.K., the east and west coasts of the U.S. (though not the mid-west), and a smattering from elsewhere around the world. There's a big dot in Atlantic Canada - me and my mom, I suppose. I've also had readers or sightseers from Ontario and the Canadian west. Not a big readership, by any means. But I'm content.

I mention this because I'm coming up to the end of my 3rd year of blogging. Though I try to avoid metablogging (blogging about blogging), I feel like I should say something insightful about how this process has changed me or my work.


Well, here's one change: I think a lot more about ownership of content. "Content" is an internetish word that refers to photos or video or audio or text - the stuff we create and share online and off. One of the ways the internet has changed my thinking about this stuff is that now, whether I'm writing a comment or uploading a photo, I'm always mindful of who will benefit from or make use of this stuff, and how. I'm not talking about copyright; although maybe I should be (or, at least, copyleft - the denial of permission for others to copyright one's work). I'm just talking about content creation and usage.

Let me give you an example.

There were eight pages of questions on that survey I referred to in a previous post. Each page deserved a half hour of careful thought - if the answers were to be honest and thoughtful. But that meant I was looking at four hours of typing and reflection. That's a lot of unpaid content.

I have a blog - actually I have several, but most are untended - and so I feel some desire to post something. That means when I'm not being paid to write (a rare occasion indeed) I'm usually writing for myself. If I find myself crossing, say, the 200 word limit in a comment on someone else's post, I turn my comment into my own post with a link back to the original. If I'm typing out answers to an eight page survey, well... that's a lot of blog posts I'm giving away.

Does that sounds a bit Scrooge like? Maybe a little?


Again, I'm not crazy hungry for readership. But I paid attention when I read someone asking why the news outfit CNN hosted their content on Twitter's site, instead of hosting CNN's Twitter content on CNN's site. Why, they asked, send people to www.twitter/cnn instead of sending them to www.cnn/twitter?

A related question pops up when I read that some journal or other will publish my content provided I don't publish it anywhere else. Why would I do that? Why would I give away control of my words and thoughts?

Contributing to a joint venture, a shared conversation, such as Literacies feels different. I feel a bit like part of the gang, and anyway they reach people and places I don't, so I'm happy to contribute content there. But, mostly, I bulk at providing somebody else the fruits of my labour.

In addition, in managing my own content, I'm thrilled to be able to do an end run around the traditional media gatekeepers and get my stuff out there through Google Blogger, Youtube, Facebook, MSN Live, (maybe one day) Twitter and various related webtools.

*take That, Jamie Irving!*

On the flip side, I do have to think up something useful or interesting to say on a fairly regular basis.

In that sense, blogging has a soap-opera quality. It is a form of performance art. It offers an on-going, long-winded narrative that recycles emotionally effective themes, meeting the needs of reader/viewers and author/participants alike.

Hard work, writing a soap opera. Hard to say the same thing in new ways.

Makes it so you don't want to write very much for somebody else's show.

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