ART 2.0 A blog about ART - Specifically art that is made and resides in the cyber world.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Thoughts: The Internet is about Context

**Disclaimer: because I view this blog as a sketchbook, many of my thoughts are half-baked at best (I believe this is true of most blogs anyway). Nonetheless, beyond my meager writing skills and Swiss cheese arguments, I’d like to think there are kernels of truth worth discussing.

The Internet is about Context

The Internet is about context. Contribution of content is necessary, but the vast majority of Internet users have traditionally contributed very little content of their own. It is true that, as social media grows, more and more people are contributing their own content (pictures, status updates, blogs, etc.) but the context of that content is growing in importance even more substantially.

The Internet is used interchangeably with the Web. As the term Web infers, it is a collection of content that is connected based on relational hyperlinks. In fact these days, with the exception of a few of the most visited sites, most web pages are only visited because they relate (are linked to) another web page. “I link, therefore I am.” Google ranks the websites that it indexes based on how many other sites link to it (the more linked to, the higher the rank). A web page’s importance is based on where it is situated contextually with other web pages.

But it’s not just importance of web pages that is based on context. The ease of distribution of content on the Internet has made it a hotbed for sharing. As I said before, very few people contribute their own original content, but many more share preexisting content. In this way content “travels” around the Internet propelled by users. While this is true of physical media as well, it is much truer of digital content (because it is even easier to share and doesn’t degrade as quickly) and even defines its very existence. Content on the Internet lives a life that is determined by the journey it takes as it is shared. It’s context(s) give it value.

Also, as I alluded to above, the rise of social media has only heightened the relevancy of context on the Internet. Where a person situates their profile (in relation to friends, interests, organizations, etc.) is what drives their digital experience. Tagging friends in pictures and commenting on a connected person’s content drives the interest of most social media users. The context websites like Facebook arrange us in is what gives social media value.

As artists, we can focus way too much on the original content we contribute... caring about what it looks like and what it means. But the Internet is about context and if we’re making art for the Internet or art of the Internet, maybe we should be focusing more on curating a context for the content we contribute instead of tripping up over the initial form of it.

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