Content and its discontents

This is not content.

It is a poorly thought-out essay, dashed off in a pre-dawn fit. It is what writers back in the day would have scribbled in near-illegible scrawl in some notebook, or on the back of some list of tack to be repaired or tasks to be completed that week. This is the kind of thing, only one step above marginalia, that later historians snarl over, regretting they have to scrape the bottom of the document barrel to decipher the ill-constructed raving.

But do not call it content.

I hate content. Hate it, with a passion. It is a poisonous term coined to debase all human endeavor in words, sounds, images to a widget, something you can plug into any space (so long as it makes people buy devices or click through to buy some shoes). Something that attracts eyeballs or card swipes, a servant of bland commerce. I’m not talking about selling out. Hell, sell out all you want. Just get what’s your fair market share.

Content steals that from you, whatever value (forget worth) you may have just generated.

The slots make your work equal to any other that falls roughly into the same medium. Your piece of investigative journalism fits into the same spot as that uninformed rant about the way women’s panties are marketed. Your engraving of a lily can be swapped out for a picture of a donkey’s ass. Your complex composition… well, that’s too alienating and distracting.

Content has infected our consideration of our current digital transition. Like “tax relief,” it’s a word with deep political and social implications, but it slips by the ear and mind unnoticed.

Your art is not content, not something to slurped haphazardly in someone else’s digital box, to serve their ends. Content is shit–though even shit has its uses and potential fertility.

This is not content. Your work isn’t content, either. Lovers of art, do not go gentle into that content.

(And don’t even get me started about the term “creatives”…)

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