Don’t Call It Content

If you stop to think about it, the fact that we use the word “content” to refer to everything we read on the internet is kinda weird. It’s one of those cases where technical jargon has become the norm. I hate it.

Content is something that goes inside something else. When the word you use to define something is intrinsically based on its subordinate relationship to another thing… it devalues it. Really what you’re saying when you use the word is that it’s a means to an end — usually a way to make money.

Well, I don’t want my content to be the drooping lettuce in the sad little bun of my website. Would you? It’s why I generally find myself referring to what I do here as “articles” rather than “posts”. Because the latter is tarred with the same sticky brush as “content”.

Last year I wrote a little post (dammit!) about how the word “blog” is no longer semantically viable. I was reminded of that a few days ago when I read “Why blogging is an amateur thing” by Dave Winer. He desperately wants the word “blog” to mean something (and he has a pretty specific definition of what).

This is the problem. We’re all still caught up in a 20th century milieu where the stuff around the “content” is really what matters and what defines it. So it’s important to people like Dave to delineate their little boxes: “this here is journalism, this here is a blog, etc”.

(See also: self-published ebooks vs. hardback trade published.)

The wrappings around created work matter less and less. The venue that your writing appears in doesn’t confer legitimacy. We are now entering a new age where things can be judged almost entirely on their own merits. But everyone’s busy fighting the last war.

Call it a post, call it an article, call it whatever you want. But if you value it at all, stop calling it content.