The open source content model

The open source content model

Summary: Ever since the Web was spun users have been taking what they were given, adding to it, enhancing it, and creating value.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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The blogosphere is being tickled today by a New York Times feature from John Markoff (right, from his Stanford faculty page) on what might best be called the open source content model.

I always find such articles fascinating, not so much for themselves as for what they say concerning mainstream attitudes about what technology is about.

In reviewing game sites like Will Wright's Spore, rating sites like Technorati, photoblog sites like Flickr and the latest enhancements at Yahoo and Google, what comes across is the idea that what people are doing with sites is becoming more important than what the site designers created, and that some smart designers are waking up to this fact. Markoff delivers this as though he has suddenly discovered a new truth.

But this is not a new truth at all. Ever since the Web was spun users have been taking what they were given, adding to it, enhancing it, and creating value. Amazon is all about that, eBay is all about that, and I like to think that your threads make these ZDNet blogs a more robust cloth. From the "personal Web sites" of GeoCities to the online tools of Blogger, many of the best sites have used this model for a decade.

I have said here many times that open source means more than Linux. It's a business model, and I should have added, a content model as well. Some 10 years on with the Web, and journalism has barely begun getting its arms around this idea, that sites grow organically, through interaction among users, and not from the top down, content delivered to audience.

Topic: Open Source

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6 comments
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  • Net, schmet

    There's a reason it used to be called "folk music."

    Back before there was money in keeping others from performing, American jazz (to pick only one) thrived on being passed around from one artist to another until the fingerprints were completely illegible.

    Today, American jazz is sterile (look for articles declaring that jazz is dead.) Brazilian jazz, on the other hand, is still produced in the streets and it shows -- it's arguably the most vital musical scene in today's world.

    Great culture is participative.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Another point about jazz

      I know this is off-topic, but I can't resist. Ken Burns, in his Jazz mini-series, says BeBop was created so that the musicians would have some equity in what they were creating. Older forms were all stolen by the record companies because they were written. Bebop was performed.

      Bebop was also difficult to understand, musically elite, and led to the downfall of jazz as an artform.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • OT - Recommendations?

      I'm interested in trying this out. Any groups you can recommend that have samples online or are available on iTunes?
      rpmyers1
      • OT: Brokerage

        Hmmm -- the ladylove is the real expert on Latin jazz. I just get a kick out of her collection. I'll ask her for some suggestions.

        Dana -- do you want to take this offline or is it worth following up? You have my address.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Times, they are a changin'

    Yes, open (source) content is changing the world. Led by, among others, Professor Lessig, the movement to free (as in free speech) content is warming up, and we are seeing companies and individuals creating and distributing content with just a few strings attached, as opposed to the traditional way content has been distributed... all rights reserved. In reality, what we are seeing is a middle ground developing... a bridge from 100% proprietary to public domain. The middle ground is a healthy position, and should be beneficial to many instead of the few.

    MLF
    opensourcepro
  • Evolution

    A site is a big zero without hits. It's one thing to get users to visit and another to get them to come back. I remember a discussion I had about users and the fact that many were new to computers and the internet. In fact I look back and lmao at how lost people were in the past. My last words were.. people will get smarter the more they use their computers and the internet.. Then the'll start demanding what they want!

    So content is for users. Today sites need to be user interactive. If we were stuck with waiting for web content to evolve from a handful of all rights reserved Sofware giants, we would still be living in a sheeple past.

    It's a wonder that open source was looked at as nothing innovative. Or some kind of messy hacker code. I really think users thought of content as a stamped process waiting for the Shepard to cast a new die. Open source is making content flexible and more usable (like silly putty).

    The model is becomming corrected to what people want. Not what someone thinks the people need.
    xstep