Why I hate content

Why I hate content

Some perfect “content” – for a garbage/rubbish truck

There: that gave you a shock, n’est ce pas. I really, really hate content with a vengeance.

Not because I hate “it.” It’s because I loathe the word, when it is used to represent the incredible talent, skill and value that “content” actually delivers to readers and viewers.

What did the word content  mean before the online wallahs hijacked it?

Well, as far as I can remember it way back then, content – or contents – was a popular term to describe the following:

  • What’s in a garbage can / rubbish bin
  • What’s in someone’s intestines before evacuation takes place either via colorectal procedures or (let’s not go there)
  • The chapter headings in a book (ah, a bit nicer)
  • What’s inside an old house before someone clears everything out, pays the owners/heirs a pittance for it, and then sells it on for a disgraceful profit
  • What’s inside a pack of indescribably awful processed food, only because legislation forces you to describe all the horrors the manufacturers put into it
  • Chemicals in tobacco smoke that will curl your hair as well as give you cancer
  • Etc.

Now, folks: how did we get from the definition of carcinogenic cr*p to a description of everything, and I mean everything, you read online and often offline too?

Content came from web developers, perhaps?

Tekkie nerds being what they are, my own view is that they have always regarded the need to put something up on the websites they create other than wonderful links and connectivity, as a pain in the ass.

I remember years ago when working with web designers of the era when the design ruled: we copywriters were told to provide some “text to fill in the spaces on pages X, Y and Z.” We were told how many words were required. What those words said was of no importance whatsoever to the tekkies who were in charge and dare I say, they didn’t even seem to matter to the clients who were still entranced by the mystique of the online environment so were delighted merely with the sight of their company name and logo online, and never mind the boring words bit.

Is content still suffering from this disease?

Yes. Although the whole online business ethos has changed and most businesses, these days, accept that their future marketing success lies in the digital arena led by words – working in partnership with design, perhaps – marketers still seem to dismiss what actually pays their salaries as mere content.

But being a typically Taurean reasonable soul, having growled about the insulting implications of the word “content,” I feel obliged to suggest some alternatives to name what, in reality, is what many, many businesses feed off in their online marketing activities – as well as the offline variety.

That’s the problem. What realistic alternatives are there?

I had a look at my favorite writing resource of the moment, the Thesaurus section of Dictionary.Reference.com. The best they could come up with words like…

  • Capacity
  • Cargo
  • Constituents
  • Details
  • Innards
  • Subjects
  • Substance
  • Text
  • Themes
  • Topics

Yikes! Those are awful. I’m at a loss here

Surely there has to be a better word than “constituents” or “innards?”

How about these to get us thinking, at least…

  • Assets
  • Capital
  • Intelligence
  • Knowledge
  • Knowledge Assets
  • Knowledge Equity
  • Resources
  • Substance
  • Valuables

Help me out here…

Do you feel that the word content is demeaning and derogatory? Please share your views and if you agree, share your thoughts on a better alternative.

Right now, I would put my money on Knowledge Assets… but now it’s over to you.

photo credit: Alan Stanton via photopin cc