Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Conversation, not Content?

Jeff Jarvis, at BuzzMachine, has an interesting post called "Who wants to own content?" This is one of those referrals that I want you to read wearing your "library lens". Jarvis is discussing content owners in the for-profit arena but libraries are in the content ownership and distribution game too. And the shifting ground is beneath our feet as well as the feet of publishers of content and traditional distribution channels like newspapers.

The whole post is "quote-worthy" but here's a few tidbits. Jarvis says, "the value is no longer in maintaining an exclusive hold on things. The value is no longer in owning content or distribution. The value is in relationships. The value is in trust."

Why? Because "There is no scarcity of good stuff. And when there is no scarcity, the value of owning a once-scarce commodity diminishes and then disappears."

"[I]n this new age, you don’t want to own the content or the pipe that delivers it. You want to participate in what people want to do on their own. You don’t want to extract value. You want to add value. You don’t want to build walls or fences or gardens to keep people from doing what they want to do without you. You want to enable them to do it. You want to join in."

So, one thing this suggests is that the parts of the content industry that have experience with relationships and trust--like libraries--should be in the ascendancy. Are we dismantling the fences and walls and expanding our trust circles? Slowly.

A puzzlement to me--and something Jarvis doesn't address much--is how trust, relationships and conversation become monetized. In other words, libraries receive funding to be--for the most part--the content owners and the distribution pipes. How would they be funded for such ephemeralities as trust and conversation?

1 comment:

Erica Reynolds said...

Ah--I love this. Great post. And it's dead on. All great librarians are people who are out in the community, who talk to people, and who build relationships--as we look for ways to build these online spaces that help to create community and encourage conversations, we can build trust by being libraries full of staff who don't just pay lip-service to community building and relationships, but people who actually dig in and meet their neighbors. This seems simple, and in a small town or small neighborhood it is, but in suburban libraries and urban libraries, I think lots of librarians would greatly benefit from a stronger connection to real people in their communities (beyond their normal circles of friends)... This trust and real understanding of community helps to create these value-added worlds online as well.