Wondering about the future of content

Maybe all this weblog content should be taken offline. This functional journal represented like 20 years of writing. Some of it false starts and a lot of it incomplete in nature. People seem to be trimming down backlogs of Tweets and other online content. Sometimes I consider purging it all and just moving along. This work is archived. Pulling it down from here would not even make a ripple in the grand ocean of innovation and creativity.

Working on the next writing project is always on target. Editing and working with previous work is not even on my radar most of the time. Obviously, it is something that I probably should invest more energy and effort into, but it never becomes a priority. I’m always placing value on what’s next. All of my attention and focus is on what I’m going to do next. That attention is never on what I have been doing. That is how it works and how I evaluate things. Potential matters. As a writer you don’t generally value the potential of a previous pile of work. This makes me wonder about the future of content. Library shelves provided a curated look into the collective works of content deemed memorable. Somebody thought it was important enough to log it and keep it on the shelf. Beyond any reasonable expectation for storage on a library shelf the amount of content available has accelerated to the point where no library could reasonably physically hold it, have the time to evaluate it, or provide the curation function historically associated with a library. 

Online from internet browsers we have access to so much new content being created every day that a certain degree of displacement is bound to occur. Classic novels and literature will be thinned out to the vital few gaining popular references over and over again. Academic writing is great for sign posting where the ideas were built from during the literature review and other sections explaining the origins of ideas. Outside of academic work something has to be pretty impactful to be referenced. Sometimes it takes a movie franchise to make a book super popular. Other times a super popular book will drive the creation of a movie and sometimes a franchise will develop from that seed. 

These are the things that I am super curious about today. I’m wondering about the future of content and drinking some espresso. 

People are using services to clean out Tweets older than 90 days. First, the facts are clear that this is a common enough request to need services. Second, people seem to be using these services on an ongoing basis. My own personal library of Tweets is generally useless. It is a bunch of links and one line references to things that caught my attention. Twitter is so ephemeral in how it represents the now. As time elapses the usefulness of the content expires exponentially. The value of a sporting event being televised peaks during the broadcast and replays generally are less valuable by an order of magnitude. It makes me wonder if all that content being produced has a flashpoint of value that peaks and falls off into an abyss. Within that abyss all the abandoned content just gets ignored for the most part. The only people going back to read old Tweets are generally researchers. Search engines are smart enough to pretty much ignore that forest of one line zingers and stale links that is the aging Twitter stream.

The amount of academic writing being published has skyrocketed with the advent of online distribution and journals that exist solely online. The barrier to entry of having to print and distribute a journal evaporated. That is important as to continue physically printing a journal it had to have enough subscribers to support that ongoing and expensive endeavor. Online journals have a much lower sustainment cost. This also creates the possibility of increasing fragmentation within the academic community. Following the trail of references in papers is what binds the academic community together. It is that shared activity of running down references that removes fragmentation and focuses the academy itself on the key contributions. At the same time, just seeing a reference over and over again and not being able to get access to it or really find it can be exceedingly frustrating. That is the type of problem that creates reliance on the sources of information and publications that are stable and easy to access. Working within topics that require working in multiple languages or trying to access international journals can be increasingly difficult. 

I guess given enough time to reflect on the future of content my concern about academic literature is dissipating. People will reference and get access to the ideas that influence the academy. That is going to happen based on the near perpetual desire of the people participating in ongoing academic research. Everything else outside of that is where all my wondering about the future of content ended up focusing. Content owned within movie studies and the frameworks they use to distribute will probably continue to be fragmented based on the ever growing islands of online streaming. Independent projects are more ephemeral. A lot of that content gets shared on platforms like YouTube that are here today and gone tomorrow. Given that independent content shared that way would have to be rehoused to continue distribution that content is at risk for being inaccessible. A lot of creator based individual driven content streams fall into that category. One one hand it is great that people are able to share content and some of it gains a real audience that gets to enjoy it and participate with the creator. Alternatively, what happens to that content in the long run.   

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