When ‘Content’ Isn’t Content Essay

697 WordsJan 24, 20143 Pages
“Content is king,” sayeth the online analysts. These days, content breeds search engine optimization, places your website at the top of the Google pile, brings traffic to your website and prevents cavities. OK, that last bit was a patent falsehood. But it’s really not too much farther from the truth than the preceding claims for the almighty content, whatever that is. Here’s what the dictionary says content is: con·tent: [kon-tent] noun 1. something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts: a poetic form adequate to a poetic content. 2. significance or profundity; meaning: a clever play that lacks content. 3. substantive information or creative material viewed in contrast to its actual or potential manner of presentation: publishers, record companies, and other content providers; a flashy Web site, but without much content. You can forget that definition. What content really is in this day and age is, to put is bluntly, dreck. It’s wasted pixels on a website, devoid of useful information, a red herring for the casual reader that exists only to serve the search engine bots that roam the interstices of the Internet. The most egregious example of contentless content I have found recently is on the USAToday website. The publication recently implemented a “Travel Tips” section that is a veritable wasteland of empty content. The “content” is provided by Demand Media, a virtual content machine that manufactures more than 4,000 pieces of content per day, according to a Wired magazine article. Picture an island with a million freelance travel writers sitting at keyboards producing articles at the rate of six per day for $25 each and you have a pretty clear vision of what Demand Media does. How good is the “content” produced? Quality does not seem to be job-one for the folks at Demand Media, or, by

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