[Air-l] Taxonomy of Content on the Internet

Matthew Allen M.Allen at exchange.curtin.edu.au
Sun Sep 17 19:08:55 PDT 2006

I wonder if the problem is the word content itself (which has too many,
contested uses).

Firstly, on a technological basis might I suggest we separate "channel
media" (print, radio, TV, film, videos, nonnetworked games) vs
"environmental media" (telephone, CB radio). I understand the latter,
environmental media, as being 'contentless' in the sense that the
content is constitutive of the experience of being into communicative
enviroment (eg a telephone call) - while there are two people on the
phone, they experience the interaction within an environment of
collectivity (2 become 1). Oddly enough, that's why conventions of turn
taking, dialogue etc are required - since the 'two are in one space,
without a connecting channel' you need social rules to manage that.  The
former, channel media, distances and separates the two parties
(conventionally producer and audience memebrs) - content is necessary to
'link' the two together because otherwise there is no connection.

The internet confuses all of this (as does, incidentally, latest
generation mobile phones and, in theory at least, iTV) because it
actively promotes combinations of channel and environmental media; on a
business end, too, content has become a major issue because of the
difficulty of profiting sufficiently from 'just' communication. Phone
companies and related service providers don't make a lot from providing
the environment; they want deals or control over content to make
significant returns (both through direct selling and related

I suspect that the key term is not content, but connectivity - and
content and communication are elements that create different kinds and
patterns of connectivity between ppl.

What do you think?

Dr Matthew Allen
Associate Professor in Internet Studies 
President Association of Internet Researchers
Faculty of Media Society and Culture
Curtin University of Technology
CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
+61 8 92663511 (v) +61 8 92663166 (f)

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