Michael Karlesky

A cabinet of wonders. Minus the cabinet. And possibly the wonders.

I hereby refuse to call your creative work “Content.”

  Image  credit:  Martin Stabe  [via Creative Commons]

 Image credit: Martin Stabe [via Creative Commons]

I love the good the web and the Internet bring. They have become an extension of my brain. I suspect there are neurons in the back of my head slowly forming into a port to directly jack into the network.

But no good thing comes without unintended consequences. I’ve observed a phenomenon I suspect has paralleled the growth of the web: the tyranny of “Content.” Content strategy. Content marketing. Content distribution. Content syndication. Content. Content. Content. Web and streaming companies seem to build their “platforms” with the assumption they just need to find “Content” (user generated or otherwise) to fill their “channels.”

So what? 

Do you think of a Van Gogh as content? Shakespeare? So how about that blog post you saw a few years ago that was so beautiful it moved you to tears? Good content? How about that YouTube video so funny you showed it to everyone you know? Just content? How about anything you, dear reader, have ever toiled over? Have you thought to yourself, “I’m so happy with this content I just produced.”?

The rise of “Content” has served to obscure and trivialize the creativity of an online generation whether or not that work is expressly online. The stories, the poems, the films, the photos, the songs, and even the remixes. However brief and however terrible, that “Content” took effort and vision and creativity and maybe even guts to put out into the world.

So please forgive me if I pause a moment when talking about any such work of creation — maybe yours — as I find the right word to credit its author, however anonymous, for the gift they have given us.