What good is any of this technology without the arts? What is youtube without music videos? What is itunes without --you know -- tunes? What is ibooks without literature? What are web pages without the graphic arts? Without writers? Without photographers? Without paintings?
These are the things that technophiles call "content." What the heck is content? The waste basket in my bathroom has content, but none of what makes the internet worth a darn. Why do technophiles call art "content"? Why such a sterile term? Are we trying to erase the mind of the passion that art brings about?
Should we go to the New Orleans Museum of Content to see the content contributions of Picasso, Monet, and Gaugin? Oh what lovely content they created!
Or maybe go to the library and check out the wonderfully written content by Twain, Steinbeck, and Morrison! Great content providers -- all of 'em.
Or maybe we can remember the good old days when CBS News had that great content providers like Walter Cronkite and Edward R Murrow, or NBC had content provider David Brinkley! Oh yes! What lovely content providers they were!
The word is Art. We have all but eliminated the arts from schools. And now it looks as if we are trying to eliminate the arts from our language. They are not the arts, they are the contents!
I have an hypothesis as to why the techies don't use the term art, and instead use the term "content" though I am certain that they can offer a much more innocent reason. But I think that reminding techies that the devices and apps they make only truly have value when artists contribute their work to the devices and web pages and blogs and so forth.
And that would mean that the real driving force behind the technological revolution isn't really the button downed and celebrated geeks of the world, but the unkempt bohemians who often work in cluttered spaces, whose thoughts never seem quite cogent until they do.
This perspective means that the superstar geeks of the world are really dependent on artists. What Ordinary Jane type would buy an iPad just for official work, which is the only thing technology is good for without the arts?
Techies seem to have a love-hate relationship with art. Almost every technological innovation of the technological revolution made its way into mainstream consciousness by stealing or allowing for the stealing of art. Napster started out a means to steal music. Youtube started as a means of stealing movies, music videos, and television programs. Early on, the web was a means of stealing newspaper and magazine articles. And really the stealing hasn't stopped its just gotten a tad more covert. So, clearly techies must know that the arts are important.
But techies really hate it when artists want to be paid for their art. They hate copyrights that protect artists and help assure that artists will be compensated for their art. Art deserves to be protected by copyright. Techies don't like that so they invented the idea of "copy-free" which basically means that artists should starve. And the geeks make it sound so liberal and progressive: "information wants to be free!" is their rallying cry. But information (another sterile techie term for art) isn't an organism. It wants, literally, nothing. But the producers of that information? They need to get paid. Only on the internet is working people for nothing seen as a progressive ideal.
I understand that some of you will point out the irony of my producing this free piece of writing to argue, in part, against free pieces of writing. But I offer this for free. I've long given up any notion that any of my writing is worth getting paid for. I'm content with that. But what about the other kind of content? The content that is art? What about those who wish to dedicate themselves to develop professional careers in writing, or making music, or painting, or photographing -- what have you?
As the techies turn artists into "content-providers" do artists and their work become less valuable? And, if their work becomes less valuable will it be work that fewer people can afford to pursue, thus turning the arts into an elitist-only pursuit? What becomes of art that is content? Is it any more valuable than the garbage in a failed writer's bathroom wastebasket?