‘Content’ is a vile word

‘Content’ is a vile word
Credit: Peter Gudella / Shutterstock

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There’s a word that has become ubiquitous in recent years. A word that describes the product I make at The Next Web and almost everything you consume on the internet. It’s a vile word that often devalues the very thing it describes.

I’m talking about the word ‘content.’

‘Content’ describes blog posts, TV shows, podcasts, movies, books; everything from The Complete Works of Shakespeare to a trashy Daily Mail article about a minor celebrity almost standing in a puddle. And it’s such a passion-free word. It describes creating stuff to fill a hole – whether the hole in question is an app on your phone, a 30-minute television slot, a photo for an Instagram marketing strategy or a 327-word rant on a tech site.

‘Content’ is a word for people who don’t really care what’s produced as long as they can sell it, or put ads against it, or use it as part of their marketing strategy. I wince every time I catch myself using it. In too many cases, artists have been downgraded to the status of mere ‘content creators.’

And yet what other word is there that describes the broad range of creative output available to us today? And in the end, this article is just ‘content’ that I produced to fill a hole in the TNW Weekly newsletter as I didn’t feel like boring our readers with yet more discusson of Taylor Swift and Apple – in itself a dispute about content.

I’m not content with ‘content,’ but hey, what other word am I going to use? I like Max Tatton-Brown’s suggestion of ‘material.’

“Material is like the fabric of something actually useful. It’s a bit more tangible… Material has customers rather than consumers. Your material must be top notch, it’s not just a snack between courses — it is a product in its own sense.”


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