“The actual context and the state of content is going to be so different to anything we can envisage at the moment–where the interplay between user and the provider will be so in simpatico…it’s going to crash our ideas of what mediums are all about.”
–David Bowie, 2000
The world is mourning the loss of an incredible musician and artist who made a huge impact on the world. David Bowie was always thinking outside the box, always changing and adapting his style and music, but was always true to himself–and admired for his boldness in doing so.
One of the things that I always thought was very cool about David Bowie beyond the music, fashion, and Ziggy Stardust makeup was that he was an Internet pioneer. No, really, he was! I remember many years ago reading about how much he was playing and investing in websites and creating content for websites. Some of the websites and content stuck, and some of it didn’t, but Bowie wasn’t afraid to give things a try. The best example I can think of off the top of my head was a children’s music site. Bowie’s daughter is about a year older than my own son, so I thought it was pretty cool that he was curating musical content that was age appropriate for our children, but not so dorky/corny stuff that parents wouldn’t want to listen to it as well. It was an amazing site that closed down later, but it was a significant step towards digital music content as we know it now. He may have done some other experimental sites with music, but I was only tuned into the children’s music at the time.
If you do a search on “David Bowie Internet Pioneer”, you’ll see many articles out there right now telling you more details about his heavy involvement. He knew that the internet was all about CONTENT, and he tried to be one of the earliest content providers.
One of the things that popped up in the many memorials to him was this interview about the role of the Internet and content and the wide possibilities. The interview below was done in the year 2000, just as internet access was starting to become more mainstream (AOL was the big provider at the time, to give you some perspective), and he was SO ahead of his time.
Hopefully, as technical communicators, we can not only learn how to be creative individuals like Bowie was with his music, art, and fashion, but also think beyond our current scope of thinking to what content–not just the arts that he represented, but much more and beyond–can truly be, and have a better understanding of what our relationship to content should be.
Listen and learn. RIP, David Bowie.