Mark Twain did not write “content.”
So tweeted Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten in April 2014. This was probably one of my most memorable moments on Twitter, and the fact it didn’t get thousands of righteous retweets brings shame on all of us.
Weingarten perfectly articulates the point that we in the creative business – from writers to coders, designers to producers, ought to be ashamed of describing our work as “content.”
It’s a disgusting word. It cheapens everything we do – it reduces our output to mere pabulum. It lumps everything together as an amorphous mush of “stuff”; it imputes no value other than simply sitting there.
When I first dreamt of getting into the agency game, I idolised writers, designers, photographers: people who – through enviable talent and years of refining their craft – created memorable art, images, stories, something to aspire to.
Are we to accept that today we are all just “content providers”? What happened to pride and ambition?
Now I’m the first to admit I’m nothing if not lazy and hypocritical: I’ve used the filthy word myself. I understand that it’s a commercial shorthand that resonates with some clients, and let’s face it, I haven’t been smart enough to come up with a comprehensive alternative yet.
But surely between the entire creative industry we can find a better word?