Bjork’s latest project landed in my stream by a post from Kenley Neufeld on Google+. There are so many aspects of that one sentence I could discuss and yet I will discuss almost none of them. Today I want to discuss the fact that the term “format” has no rational meaning for a new type of work that is being created today. Let me break this down for you.
If you are lucky enough to own an iPad, go download Bjork’s “Biophilia” app. If you aren’t lucky enough to have an iPad, find someone who does, have them download it (it’s free), and play with it for a while. If you don’t have an iPad, or know someone who does, you must live on Mars, but so be it. Bear with me as I try to explain this to you.
“Biophilia” is not a book. It is not an album. It is not a game. It does not logically belong to any category I can name except, perhaps, an “application”. And that is seriously unsatisfying as a type of creative content. It doesn’t seem to get to anything useful, or descriptive, or helpful. Perhaps slightly better is the nomenclature of “work” as that is what it is. It is a work of art — digital, interactive, unlike anything we’ve seen before, but still undeniably a work.
But from the librarian point of view, it’s even worse than that. It isn’t static. It has a life — not everything is available yet, so it will change over time. How do we categorize such a thing? How do we describe it? How do we collect and preserve it? All of these are difficult questions that have no clear answers. About the only thing I know now is that “format” has lost all meaning for this type of work.