What We Talk About When We Talk About Content

"Content." A catch-all. An abomination. A word people use to mean anything that is uploaded to the web. It used to be bandied about by advertisers but now it's everywhere and everybody's talking about "content". 

Every time I hear it, I die a little. (I also die a little every time I hear "disruptor" but my brain mangles it to disraptor and I imagine a giant hawk taking chunks of out people who "disrupt". And let's not even get started on "creatives". The "creatives" are going to take over the world but in a Dawn of the Dead way. "Watch out, the creatives are coming to eat your brain!")

Content is everything, and it’s nothing. It’s an artificial word thrown around by people who know nothing, describing nothing.
— The Ad Contrarian

So, here's the thing: why don't we, instead of talking about "content", call it what it is? Because "content" demeans everything. It shoves your selfie in a box with Al Vandenberg's photography. It's another cat video resting alongside Frida Kahlo's self-portraits. It puts your Facebook post right up there with Frank O'Hara's A Step Away from Them. Because it's online, it's all "content". 

You need words? You need photographs? You need illustrations? You need a film? CALL IT WHAT IT IS. And the people? My god, please think of the people who have been reduced to "content creators" toiling away on content farms where their only respite is a cracked window and a slug of content juice to help them make the content faster. Nope. These people aren't "content creators", they're writers, film makers, photographers, artists and designers. For the love of all that is good and holy, give them their due. 

And let's stop using words that don't mean anything and start saying the things we mean. 

We were so into the net around the time of Kid A. Really thought it might be an amazing way of connecting and communicating. And then very quickly we started having meetings where people started talking about what we did as ‘content’. They would show us letters from big media companies offering us millions in some mobile phone deal or whatever it was, and they would say all they need is some content. I was like, what is this ‘content’ which you describe? Just a filling of time and space with stuff, emotion, so you can sell it?
— Thom Yorke, The Guardian