View Full Version : Why use the word Content?
12-20-2005, 11:29 AM
Content is to the Web as zombies are to human culture.
-- David Weinberger's Weblog
Designers could refer to it as information or online writing, but don't. Perhaps using the word information puts too much expectation on what fills the layout. The word content doesn't seem to hold much expectation of anything. Machine generated random phrases are just as good as persuasive writing. Features are just as good as benefits.
Why this word 'content'? (http://www.webpagecontent.com/arc_archive/132/5/) gives the word an interesting perspective. It makes you wonder why there isn't a "generate content" button on site editors.
12-20-2005, 01:24 PM
It makes you wonder why there isn't a "generate content" button on site editors.
But there is.. It's on the back of my head and the boss comes by, hits me upside the head and magically new "content" appears on the site.. :D
Why use the word Content?
I know what it is when I see it. :-)
01-18-2006, 09:01 PM
I think "content" is more of a generalized commodity. Since it could be video, audio, or graphics as well as writing or information it is easier to talk about as a commodity.
That same "content" when it is consumed rather than sold or traded again becomes music or articles or whatever.
My own mind processes content occupationally but consumes ideas and art recreationally. There is considerable overlap... :)
01-19-2006, 01:17 AM
"Content" is simply a word (used as a noun) that refers to that which is contained. Content is not necessarily information. For instance, content could be art as alluded to by kgun. Information has to answer at least one of the following: who, what, where, when, how and why. Content may, but it is not necessary to the definition.
Picture a blank web page. What did you imagine? A white screen? A black screen? Something else. No matter what you pictured, it may have been absent of information, but not of content. Maybe the color or lack of it was the content. However, the lack of information does not necessarily mean the lack of content.
Of course, for practical purposes, we speak of content as if it is some sort of widget. "That site lacks content!" "This site is content rich!" True content fills a void for a visitor.
If someone is seeking the sports scores for yesterday's playoffs, then a site filled with stock market returns will not fulfill that particular searcher's void. Does that financial site have content? For that searcher, it may as well have been a blank page.
Some will argue that art itself is information, that any type of content is information. To a certain extreme, I would agree in technicality that any sensory input is information.
However, a simple statement "The dog is brown," will convey virtually the same message to all that understand English. You may picture a different dog, a different shade of brown, etc., but overall, the experience is the same. You may bring with it certain connotations. For example you may hate dogs, but the message itself is fairly clear, the dog is brown is basic information.
A painting, on the other hand, may mean many things to many different people. The message is not so clear. This is especially true of more abstract images such as Rosarch tests. I think for practical purposes, we can agree that this is not information that will be interpreted equally as would a simple statement. Although, it is lacking information, it is content nonetheless.
01-19-2006, 05:31 AM
Content is in the eye of the beholder. One man's content is another man's spam.
I get fed up when I hear media types talking about content for their programming. What they really mean is bland rubbish that the mass of the population will stare at whilst they're exposed to advertising.
01-19-2006, 06:56 AM
I find the word content holds absolutely zero expectation for outcome. Promising exactly nothing, content need not perform to a level of quality. Being anything, content can be the perfect excuse for technology -- the real reason for a web site.
If content were designed, it would be designed to avoid responsibility, conflict, or discussion. Content is the enabler of purposelessness (http://www.alistapart.com/articles/landwarinasia).
01-19-2006, 06:57 AM
01-19-2006, 09:15 AM
It seems that some have a negative emotional reaction to the "buzz word" aspects of "content" and I suppose that should be taken into consideration when using it.
"Content management" has been around for a long time as a buzz-word (and application) and I think much of the usage and much of the negative connotation comes from that. This will certainly affect my use of the word in the future.
But it is a convenient collective noun to describe in general all the possible items that can go into an :::ahem::: space.
Like the word "structures" can apply to all things structural from oil rigs to office buildings to progamming modules, the word "content" is a convenient way of speaking collectively about text, audio, video, flash, music, movies, etc.
Now that "content" has acquired this commercialist baggage we have to find another collective noun or just blow-off the anti-commercialists. Isn't politics fun? :)