Friday, May 23, 2008

Content and Data

Responding to Seth Gottlieb, who argues that content is not data:

Each of the four things you say content 'has' are external to the content:

- Content has a voice... the person who created the content may be trying to communicate something, but content is inert, and does not 'try' to do anything

- Content has ownership... ownership is a social convention and not inherent to content

- Content is intended for a human audience... same thing as the first point - the intention is in the human, not the content

- Content has context... everything has context, not just content. Context is the environment in which content finds itself, both historically and in the present moment. By definition, context is external to content.

Significantly, if the things that distinguish content from data are all external to content, it follows that content is not inherently distinct from data, but becomes distinct only through out attitudes toward it and the history of its use.