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Opinion: Madeleine Morley speaks of the worryingly short shelf-life of online content

Work / Opinion

Opinion: Madeleine Morley speaks of the worryingly short shelf-life of online content

This week our Editorial Assistant Madeleine Morley reflects on her four weeks at It’s Nice That but wonders if the fast turnover of creative content online is really a good thing. Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to join in the conversation below.

I’ve been at It’s Nice That for roughly four weeks now, and during my time here I have come across some of the most interesting, inspiring work that I’ve ever seen. In search for content, I’ve travelled to many strange corners of the Internet, and I have come across artists and publications that are pushing boundaries in the most innovative and thought-provoking ways.

What I have found strange about my constant hunt for content, and what I have noticed on my countless explorations of blogs and e-zines and Tumblr pages, is the sheer amount of new material that is flagged up on each of the millions of sites, every single day. I find it overwhelming. It is difficult to consume all the information, and to engage with each new, wonderful thing to the extent that it deserves.

Some of the the content that I’ve stumbled across is making provocative points, and deserves time and thought to fully appreciate. I think of the things that have made me who I am, the songs that I listened to as a teenager, which I spent so much time scrutinizing over. The time spent with these songs allowed them to become part of the fabric of my personality: without this time, the things I love wouldn’t have sunk into my sensibility.

The speed of content turnover that the Internet demands doesn’t allow for lingering, so it feels impossible for the art to develop a meaningful place in our minds

The speed of content turnover that the Internet demands doesn’t allow for lingering, so it feels impossible for the art to develop a meaningful place in our minds. Material has such a quick sell-by date and lasts for 24 hours at the longest, and then it falls off, it is pushed out, tumbling back into the abyss that it was originally fished out from, by people like me on their content expeditions. Perhaps the new context for all this information is actually speed, not absorption, and I need to embrace this. But I still can’t quite get over the idea that whilst a quick fix of images is great and gets inspiration flowing, critical thinking and contemplation is vital, in order to fuel debate and let one artist’s view of the world flow and enrich and maybe even change yours.

The speed in which I have written this article, and then the speed in which the article will be read, and then the fact that the article will both stick around forever at the same time as being completely forgotten, is something I find interesting. To write in such a way feels organic and freeing and unhinged, at the same time as being nerve wracking because I know this will stick around, but not really, because it will just become amassed with all the other posts from the past. I find this change in the way we write and think about writing fascinating. Debating whether the speed demanded by the internet is a good thing or bad thing is perhaps not the point, rather we need to carefully consider what might be happening to our minds as an effect of the turnover of content and writing, and how the changes might be effecting our aesthetic judgement.

With online content, it feels like we’re often racing ahead, eager to know what’s next, instead of letting the intricate, subtle parts of an idea soak in. It’s astonishing to live in a world where all this endless art and illustration and information is available at our fingertips, but without context, does it mean anything other than simply being a way of passing the time?