Yarrr! Content

The new episode of Idea Channel on the meaning of the word "content" on the internet is really interesting, and I have thoughts on it. I posted them in a comment but I also want to duplicate them here because I think I'm likely to want to reference them.


Not disagreeing with your argument for the meaning that has emerged from the notion of content, but possibly proposing an intended meaning that's incompatible with your proposed re-orientation to the division:

The term content seems to me to emerge from a desire that "content creators" have to distinguish themselves from people generating media with no commercial intention -- or a desire on the part of others to draw that distinction. Under capitalism there's a lot of value in finding a categorical difference between a "content creator" and, for example, a vlogger who is merely a hobbyist -- but so many people have built professional lives out of their internet content creation hobbies, and so many people continue to take up these "jobs" *as* hobbies, that it's impossible to name a categorical distinction between a "professional" and a hobbyist.

For some folks this is probably important. If you get asked by your relatives "what are you doing with your life?" "I create content for new media platforms" sounds better than "I'm a vlogger" or "I draw comics on Tumblr." And I'm sure there was a transitional period when savvy corporate employees had to convince their bosses that platforms like YouTube were worth advertising on just like regular TV.

What I'm saying is, I don't think the seed of this idea has anything to do with the consumers, I think it's about how the creators contextualize their work as capital. But I think you're totally right about the conceptual consequences of that idea when it starts getting applied to the relationship viewers have to their media.