Today’s podcast‘s subject was changed at the last moment, as I thought this was a good time to remind everyone to think about who their audience is – that task is more important than you might realize.
Remember a podcast or two ago when I talked about Flickr blocking some pictures? Looks like I actually scooped Wired News, as today they posted an article on the exact same thing. Granted, they had the clout to interview some of the big names out there, but at least I actually mentioned it before them.
Nowadays there appears to be a switch so far as content providing web sites are concerned. In the past, most site administrators picked their content carefully, selecting images or words that fit with their own vision of what they wanted. Users still had the ability to upload their own content, but for the most part that was limited to Usenet and certain sections of AOL.
Now, it seems content management is doing a flip-flop. Taking a page out of Wikipedia‘s book (so to speak), many websites now let you upload or select your own content. Digg, del.icio.us, and YouTube aren’t big hits because they have great editors, but because everything on them has been user selected.
But this change of events is not a full 180 degree turn, as evidenced by Flickr’s practice of censoring. Wikipedia has some editors as well, which go through and weed out the entries that just don’t belong in an encyclopedia.
It’s as if these content collecting sites are parents caring for their children – they’re willing to let their kids run all over the place, but little Billy and Tammy are still going to get a scolding the next time they follow a ball out into the street.
This makes sense to me. As an art teacher I often try to find ways for my students to express themselves creatively. It often comes as a shock to them when I tell them they’re free to choose what to draw, although I do stipulate that “pictures of the art teacher getting beat up aren’t allowed.”
Whenever content creators do the thing they do, they should always remember their audience. Since I always hang up finished projects, the audience for my lessons is the entire building. Students drawing pictures of guns or other students getting hurt get at the very least a lecture and at most … well, let’s not go there.
If you post a picture to Flickr, video to YouTube, or so on, your audience is the entire internet – including the people who own those servers. If you put something there that they don’t like, don’t be surprised if it disappears.
And of course, the same is true for the world of blogging. Unless you have some way of password protecting your postings, your blog’s audience is everyone with an internet connection – including that administrator and/or coworker you just satirized in a rather catchy limerick. Believe me, people have been fired for less.