[Air-l] Taxonomy of Content on the Internet

Sal Humphreys am.humphreys at qut.edu.au
Wed Sep 20 18:08:34 PDT 2006

>Nancy Baym wrote:
>Matthew Allen wrote:
> >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 just ran across this quote which I thought encapsulated the issue nicely:
>"As Hirsch and Silverstone (1992) argue, information technology poses
>unique challenges because it is both a set of artifacts to be
>consumed as well as a medium within which social relations are
>conducted." (from Nafus and Tracey "Mobile Phone and Concepts of
>Personhood" in Katz & Aarkhus Perpetual Contact, p.208)

I think Matthew and Nancy are raising some very interesting issues about 
content here. I think redefining content to include both texts (of whatever 
form) AND social relations is crucial to an adequate understanding of the 
internet and its applications. I see this task as requiring an 
interdisciplinary approach that brings the social scientists among us into 
a more direct conversation with textual analysts and others focused on 
media content, such as legal scholars involved with issues of IP and 

There's a lot of great work by social scientists on networked relations and 
online sociability, and equally, a lot of great work on content - its form 
and it's production and consumption in these new networked environments. 
But there's a lot less work that examines and adequately theorises the 
relationship between content and social relations - the affective and 
immaterial elements of content that is also textual, creative, aesthetic 
(in whatever way). Thinking this stuff together, redefining what content 
is, will mean reorganising large institutional practices like copyright, 
media content regulations regimes, and so on. Establishing metrics will be 
even more complex than it already is.


Dr Sal Humphreys
Post Doctoral Fellow
Faculty of Creative Industries
Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane, Australia
Mob.  0414 456 078 

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