I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes people interesting, appealing, and otherwise connection-worthy online in general. A recent conversation with a friend or two about this reminded me that for many, especially in platforms like Twitter, content is king – at least in name.
Those we want to follow on Twitter ostensibly post “cool stuff.” The blogs we read provide interesting strings of words, with interesting links. Content, not form. Especially as we begin to merge our blog feeds, Twitter updates, Facebook posts, email…. form becomes less and less important. We chase after the good video or absorbing article largely uncaring which of our many connections served as the source of discovery. We let the world know we’re bored, or happy it’s Friday, or worried about politics in one form, link it to the other forms (often automatically), and move among these digital platforms, bop bop bop.
So much of what I see folks post of Twitter and FB, for example, is pretty trivial (“booo Monday!”), but peppered with the Impressive Content by the cool kids. And they are cool because they find the good articles, songs, videos, etc.
Me, by that definition? I’m not so cool. I’ve never been a content collector, never really been all that great at digging up the funky unknown bands or ferreting out the insightful independent news site. I love to read that stuff, but I’m never really the one who goes searching.
Thus, the tyranny of content. The process, by this view, is not important, but rather the nuggets of stuff themselves. Indeed, some measure the appeal of friends and acquaintances by the volume of cool stuff they contribute. I am certainly the type to respond happily to people who introduce me to cool new information and ideas, but there’s something about this process that bothers me.
I think I am swayed by notions of communication that encourage us to think of the exchange, not the specific words (content) as the true act of communicating. We develop interactions where meaning is created between/among us, and the vocabulary, facts, links, etc. are merely components of that, not the sum total of that communication. It is the act of exchange – the process – wherein the communication is found.
And now to bring this idea back to WoW, which is, after all, the “content” of this blog. My contributions in FB, Twitter, etc. are rarely cool links. More, I’m not as interested in things that people post as I am sucked in by the exchange itself – the process. In WoW, I am largely the same. I’m not contributing top DPS/heals, the best gear, the best items. In short, I’m not adding much to my guild’s content.
Instead, I think I add to the process.
I like to think I’m kind of fun to have around. I like to think that my participation in conversations, my good instruction-following skills, the fun I have when raiding, even in repeated wipes, is part of why that is. I’m certainly not adding much stuff. But adding that fun to the process is important to me. Similarly, I value greatly those players who do the same. It’s handy to have high DPS, good tanks, effective heals. But the raids are fun because of the process, not the content.
So am I a good player? Not in terms of content, probably. Am I a good person to follow on Twitter? Well, probably only if you like reading this blog – I don’t post much else, I confess. FB? I make a lot of comments on others’ posts – I engage more of the exchange than post links myself.
Maybe this means that I depend on others to provide the content, while I get to bask in the fruits of their hard won gear/web surfing/reading. And for sure, without that gear/link/video there wouldn’t be much to kill/read/watch. So I do try to gear myself up some, to post a cool link or two, do a bit of my part.
But I’m an ideas gal. I like the debate, the jokes, the discussion, the strategies. That’s really what I bring to the table more than factoids and purples. Certainly it takes all types. But at the end of the day, what do you remember? The details of that article or boss fight? Or the process of sharing with friends?
My conversations with some people in WoW are pretty content-heavy. They enjoy re-hashing a specific fight, all the technical details, how much DPS they did, where they had to stand, how to get around a boss’s funky power. But…. I confess those conversations are a tad boring to me. Honestly, I can only hear about the numbers roll for defeating Freya so many times.
It kind of reminds me of sitting around discussing baseball stats. Which makes me realise that a) that’s a boy culture in the US, far more than a girl culture; and b) some of those folks really do love to discuss that stuff.
Is it really the content? Or is it the exchange? Is a numbers-crunching debate interesting because of the numbers, or because of the debate?
I think it’s the debate. And I’m sticking with it.