Joi Ito on Content vs. Conversation

Joi Ito, back in March, posted from the Game Developers Conference, where he is going to be doing a talk on the topic of “More than MMOs: Let Them Build It. How user-created content has transformed online games into a new web platform.” (Wish I could hear that talk! It’s one of my favorite things-to-obsess-upon, as evidenced in my article for ASIST Bulletin last year.)

Joi arrives at the conference assuming it’ll be attended by people like him — old-school hacker types who cut their teeth on early game code and the community of coding — and finds it’s mostly old-school entertainment-business types who simply don’t get it.

… while there are certain companies and individuals who are bridging the gap between the gaming industry and the Internet, the gaming industry is making the same mistakes that the content guys have been making since the beginning of networked computers. They ALWAYS over-estimate the importance of the content and vastly underestimate the desire of users/people to communicate with each other and share. … The professional content is important and will never go away, but it is becoming more of a platform or substrate on which the users build their own communities, interaction and play.

I wonder if it has something to do with the illusion of control, that as a producer of content one has the power to direct others’ attention, to provide meaning? It’s very hard to make the shift (or leap) from the image of oneself as central to peripheral. It makes the re-framing that everyone’s experiencing around “Web 2.0” feel downright Copernican.

Author: Andrew Hinton

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