Content. I hear that word a lot in the world of digital advertising now. Content is king. Let's create a content platform. The client wants viral content. I am pretty tired of people saying we need a piece(s) of content. It plainly commoditises quality work and ideas.
Firstly is my distaste for the new application of the word. We've elevated a word previously reserved for uses such as “What's the contents of your lunch box today? or "Someone's ripped out the contents page of this Argos catalogue."
More than the use of the word itself is it's adornment of wolf's clothing. It's the catch-all nature, the replacement for actual detail. It is the word that has replaced ideas, thinking, craft and quality and with that comes a perceived lower value.
Writing is a wonderful skill which I don’t have. Quality writing costs money, but when you call it content it’s suddenly demoted to that 15 year old vauxhall astra with the smashed windscreen up for auction to the lowest bidder.
It’s not that we’ve lost words like articles, writing, design, art, but as is the trend for laziness at the moment, content has become the umbrella term.
I’m ok with umbrella terms as long as those using them appreciate the components within. Take User Experience Design (UX) for example. There is definitely some room for interpretation here. Sometimes UX and IA get muddled up, or thought to be the same thing. Some think UX includes design, some do not. The interpretation of the output varies widely. But instead of a, appreciating the complexities of the discipline and or b, caring, we’re left with another catch-all term to shove all that unknown into.
The worst part is i’m finding myself using the term ‘content' to describe the breadth of work and skill sets required to create that work with colleagues and clients. I’m not sure if it’s purely a marketing buzz term or something that will actually stick, but for now, tragically it helps me to explain myself. "This site will have X pieces of content.” Of course we need a steer on such things so we can propose a cost to a client. There are a myriad of content creation agencies out there to help you with your ‘content’. Not all, but some of these companies are literally just middle men, the print buyers of today, that do deals, aggregate costs and remove the skill.
In Britain today there is a resurgence in craft skills. Carpentry, baking, printing, blacksmithing etc.. and we as a nation love this. We’re happy to pay more money, we have an appreciation for the craft, and their near demise kicked off an instinct to save them. People are making good livings out of these jobs. I just hope it doesn’t take near extinction of quality writing, design and all the other ‘content’ types before we do something about it.