I’m thinking about successful new communication channels, and how we talk about what’s in them. On Twitter, we say tweets. In the blogosphere and on Facebook, posts; also rants, reviews, and flames. Facebook has likes and now everything has links.
But I note the entire absence of “content”; the word, I mean. Yay! I’ve loathed it ever since its first powerpoint-pitch appearance, meaning “shit we don’t actually care about but will attract eyeballs and make people click on ads”. Except for they don’t say “people”, they say “users”, a symptom of another attitude problem.
With every year that passes, it’s increasingly clear that the appearance of “content” in any business plan is a symptom of (likely fatal) infection by cluelessness; and a good predictor of failure.
History · It’s on my side. Nobody calls Hollywood’s output “content” (or Bollywood’s either): They’re movies and flicks, with a lovable posse of modifiers: horror, chick, war, Elvis, zombie, romance, slasher, Bond.
Publishers produce novels and epics and mysteries and bodice-rippers and procedurals and memoirs and hatchet jobs.
Musicians make songs and symphonies and anthems and albums and jams and (along with DJ’s) sets. Theater companies put on plays: musicals, tragedies, comedies, farces.
Findings · “Content” has the stink of failure; of hustlers building businesses they don’t actually care about. Which is icky and usually doesn’t pay off.
Enough with the negative findings, because there’s something important and positive to say here: If you’re building something that’s used for communication, and you find that people are using an idiomatic name for what they’re sending and receiving, you’re probably on to something.
But if you’re about “generating content” you’re dead.