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This is Not Content; This is a Blog Post

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Reflections – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Reflections – Zacqary Adam Xeper

This is not content; this is a blog post. You are not consuming this blog post. It is not being depleted by you so that it will never be available to anyone ever again.

Instead, perhaps you are reading it on a large computer screen. Perhaps you’re reading it on a laptop, large or small, sitting on a desk or in your lap. Perhaps you’re reading it on the screen of a tablet computer, or on the small screen of a cellphone. Perhaps it’s been printed out onto paper, maybe a plain letter sheet, or onto the glossy pages of a magazine, and you’re reading it off that. Perhaps you’re reading it aloud to a group of people, or perhaps you’re in that group of people, having it read aloud to you. But whatever you’re doing as these words enter your brain, you’re most certainly not consuming any content.

NEW CONTRIBUTOR

This is the first article from Zacqary Adam Green. Zacqary is a filmmaker, artist, and the Chief Executive Plankhead of Plankhead, a free culture arts organization/collective/pirate ship. This post first appeared on the Plankhead blog.

There is no such thing as content. There is no content industry full of content creators who create consumable content for content consumers. Instead, there is a diverse field of people, young and old, amateur and professional, communicating and manifesting ideas and information using a wide variety of methods and techniques. The end products of these efforts may be in the form of text, imagery, sound, or interactive experience, but none can be categorized as a generic, consumable commodity known as “content.”

If you are an artist, you are not a content creator. Perhaps you’re a painter, a musician, a filmmaker, a novelist, a comedian, a dramatist, a playwright, a game designer, a sculptor, a photographer, an animator, a puppeteer, a poet, or perhaps you’re a combination of all these things and more, but you do not create content. You make art.

If you are a journalist, you are not a content creator. You may report your stories through written words, through spoken words, through pictures, through video footage, through motion graphics, or a fusion of all these media, but you do not create content. You do journalism.

If you are an entertainer, you are not a content creator. You may entertain by telling a story, by doing a dance, by making people laugh, or by recording your conversations with fascinating people, but whether you broadcast this entertaining act with pictures, sound, or anything else, you do not create content. You do entertainment.

If you are an educator, you are not a content creator. You may write informative articles for an encyclopedia, deliver an enlightening speech to an eager audience, or create a presentation with charts and graphics, but however it is that you communicate your knowledge, you do not create content. You teach lessons.

All of these things are expressions of human thought, and yet rather than respecting their nuances, their diversity, and their individual importance, we marginalize them with our language, relegating all of what makes us unique as human beings to the generic, soulless, meaningless, newspeak descriptor of “content,” and their authors to a status of “content creators”. Yet, we do not refer to architects, carpenters, industrial designers, and the forces of nature themselves as “object creators”, and rarely, if ever, do we collectively refer to the results of their efforts as “objects”.

If you are a maker of things, a disseminator of knowledge, or anyone who contributes to the collective intellectual output of human beings, do not accept the notion that your work is less significant than a house, a chair, a piece of electronic equipment, or a rock. Do not allow yourself to be labeled as a mere “content creator.” Have more dignity than that.

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About The Author: Zacqary Adam Xeper

Zacqary is an activist in the New York Pirate Party, where his official title is "Cat Herder." He is an open source game developer, and the Chief Executive Plankhead of Plankhead, a free culture arts collective. Despite believing that money is a superfluous social construct, he has a Gittip profile.

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Contributors take own responsibility for their comments.

22

  1. Falkvinge on Infopolicy: This is Not Content; This is a Blog Post:
    This is not content; this is a blog po… http://tinyurl.com/3brhp29

  2. RT @piratbloggar: Falkvinge on Infopolicy: This is Not Content; This is a Blog Post:
    This is not content; this is a blog po… http://tinyurl.com/3brhp29

  3. 3

    My first post for Falkvinge on Infopolicy: a republishing of "This is Not Content; This is a Blog Post" — http://goo.gl/qpH3w

  4. 4

    Or "Upon Marketing Jargon" RT @Falkvinge: on #infopolicy: This is Not Content; This is a Blog Post http://goo.gl/fb/UAEXN

  5. 5

    Falkvinge on Infopolicy: This is Not Content; This is a Blog Post:
    This is not content; this is a blog po… http://tinyurl.com/3brhp29

  6. 6

    There is no such thing as content http://bit.ly/l5Rz0F I am not a content creator for the Police #DLD

  7. 8
    Uffe

    Content can be find in culture, articles etc. but not always. If with with honest meaning, fact or news value there will be content in otherwise empty shell of templates with words, etc.
    That is why content is king. You see it as something to be consumed. Not me. Either it has value. meaning honesty = content.
    If no one recognizes value there is none (if it includes the sender).

    When you say your blogg is without content I tend to agree.

    Best

    Uffe

  8. 9
    Curious

    I thought at first this was leading up to something René Magritte would give a nod to, though I guess one comes along way with simply refraining from dumbing things down, which is what I guess the author here wanted to point out.

    • 9.1

      I was actually thinking about using a parody of The Treachery of Images for the featured image, but I decided the text was already artsy-fartsy and pretentious enough, so I drew a guy with a stupid TV face instead.

  9. 10

    This is Not Content; This is a Blog Post – http://t.co/TtAlT0u good point, but what do we call "stuff formerly known as content"?

  10. 11

    Well put. But 10com keeps on using the word ‘content creator’, because it makes a clear division.

    One tip: as long as you keep on donating interesting material, be it art, journalism, entertainment, education,. to commercial third parties (f.i. this websites has api’s installed of facebook, digg it, flattr twitter etc) the originators won’t get money for their work.

  11. 12

    “@glynmoody: This is Not Content; This is a Blog Post http://t.co/U4u97YV good point but what do we call "stuff formerly known as content"?”

  12. 13

    This is Not Content; This is a Blog Post http://srai.co/iqiiEw | Nice read. @XerxesQados doesn’t quite say why content can only be consumed

  13. RT @falkvinge This is Not Content; This is a Blog Post http://is.gd/hK0nMW #infopolicy

  14. 14

    I don’t know about this. This whole post is indeed fairly contentless–it all seems to amount to “the word ‘content’ is trivializing” or something like it, but I don’t think that you’re saying anything actually useful. It’s like saying “if you’re a sculptor, don’t settle for being called an artist–this is not ‘art’, this is ‘sculpture’”.

    Myself, in my private records and notes, I usually call all these things ‘art’–be they videos, blog posts, books, music, or whatever. Any all-encompassing word is going to be inadequate, but there’s a need to be able to refer to all the things that people create and share with the world–I don’t want to have to mention individually each possible kind of creative endeavour someone might be involved in.

    So, my question is: what do you suggest? What is the goal we work towards by refusing to accept the label of ‘content creator’? If it is indeed a slight to our dignity (and I dispute that this is the case), what is the right way to avoid such slight without losing the ability to talk about creative efforts in general? And, it must be mentioned, some ‘content’ is not creative–census data also falls under the term ‘content’, but what other term is broad enough for Mozart and the census? I posit that some terminology of that degree of abstraction is necessary. So, give us a roadmap to a more dignified world: how do we get there, and how do we know when we’ve arrived?

    • 14.1

      As far as I know, a sculpture is art. If you put the sculpture inside a box, it’s also content of the box, but if it’s not in the box it’s not content of the box. Malicious usage of the word content does not need to be replaced. When it’s a word with a bad meaning, creating another word with the same meaning does not solve any problem.

  15. 15
    Hans J

    The concept of “Content” is closely related to how you “use” something. If one use a piece of music as part of something else “inside” that other entity – then – and only then it can thereafter be seen as a “content”. This may however be characterized as “contents” only looking from the perspective of the “enduser”. From the other end nothing is a “content”…

    The same confusion arises from the word “product”. Many companies refer to the result of their work as “products”. They are producing cars, TV-shows, even ideas or thoughts. This transfer of the concept from a tangible “thing” to the result of any effort is poisonous – it is this that makes the concept “intellectual property” possible. The next step of not allowing the free flow of ideas is then natural.

    Our use of words is what makes our thinking possible. We must fight for the freedom of our own thoughts!

  16. 16
    Thomas

    Word, whats in a word?
    By whatever word, a rose still smells as sweet.
    And a pig as foul..

    A free interpretation of Shakespeare
    Whether he was called a great writer, an artist or a creator of content, who cares?
    Or perhaps he was all of that – just a matter of context.

  17. [...] Zacqary Green: This is Not Content [...]

  18. 17
    anonymouse

    There’s actually a class of people who do refer to “objects” and try to make everything into objects and they might even be the people behind the whole “content” idea. They are computer programmers, and they do this because computer programming is all about abstractions and managing complexity through finding the right abstractions to simplify. The problem is that it can be taken too far, and you end up with abstractions that mean nothing and add nothing other than extra layers of bureaucracy. But there’s definitely a kind of person who likes to build a Theory of the Universe, often on the basis of statements like “everything is an object”.

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Zacqary is an activist in the New York Pirate Party, where his official title is "Cat Herder." He is an open source game developer, and the Chief Executive Plankhead of Plankhead, a free culture arts collective. Despite believing that money is a superfluous social construct, he has a Gittip profile.

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