Speculation on ‘Content Farms’

And what's the word in media today my fellow geeks? Two words actually, "Content Farms".

Yes, suddenly Content Farms are in the news, in the wake of AOL's acquisition of the Huffington Post (and AOLs own strategies), search engine loading, and more. I'm concerned that "Content Farm" is going to become a big new buzzword–so in short I'm concerned about how people are concerned.

Don't get me wrong, Content Farming in its worst manifestations is pretty freaking annoying. I understand the need to generate content (after all I'm a content myself), and I do believe some companies, industries, and so forth may go too far. Making low-quality or no-quality content just to get hits and drive up advertising is something I have a problem with.

Now, questions about Content Farming aside, I wish people would stop acting like the issue of people making questionable content to get attention, hits, and so on is new. It's not. True, technology and modern media may make Content Farming easier, there may be a proper term for it, but this is been an issue for a long, long time.

In fact, complaining about irrelevant and poorly generated content has been a human past time for quite a while.

How many times throughout the ages have people complained about folks reading quickly written, trashy novels and stories? In fact, how many authors, to their undying shame, paid the bills with poorly written books and quickly written articles? People have always been complaining about poorly generated content.

(I recall when I was researching some Chinese cultural trends, and found complaints about trashy novels from the literati from centuries ago.  Ironically I was researching trends in printing that may have helped me grasp issues about the Internet).

How many times have people complained about–and watched–trashy movies? How many of us, in fact, secretly enjoyed cheesy B-movies? There've been amazing amounts of films produced quickly, cheaply, and got out to waiting audiences throughout history. Take a look at some of Hollywood's history, and you'll see a kind of Content Farming all its own.

In the Internet's time, I've seen plenty of complaints about content farming as well–it just wasn't always about professional issues. People would complain about too much bad fanfic being churned out for attention. People would complain about poor fan-art they thought was put out just to get attention. People would complain about . . . well just about anything!

Oh, yes, people have always complained about large amounts of bad content, or mediocre content, being produced quickly and obscuring . . . well obscuring things they figured shouldn't be obscured.  This has been happening for centuries.

Know what?  We survived.

So yes, Content Farms of the big things to talk about. Yes, there are concerns. But none of this is new, it's just enabled by new technology, and happening faster. Then again that could be said of many things.

So me? I'm not worried. I don't think the net will be flooded with useless content that destroys its usability. We'll get new tools, new methods of access, and will adapt.

Though what those new tools and methods are . . . well that's for  geeks like us to figure out and design, isn't it?

Steven Savage