Empty Content

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)

I hear about “Content” constantly, and I’ve grown tired of it.  People need Content for their YouTube channel, to keep an audience, fill books, etc.  I finally realized why it gets up my nose – because the focus on Content doesn’t consider meaning.

Too often, when people talk about Content, it’s about needing to have it for some reason.  The channel has to have Content for the algorithm!  The blog needs Content to keep people’s attention.  The Podcast needs Content because you’re on a schedule and people expect it.  The existence of Content matters more than what the Content is.

When we speak of Content, we mean writing, discussions, videos, etc.  We’re talking about something that is meaningful or should be.  It may be a good chuckle or a life-changing revelation, but Content is about something supposedly that has value in itself.

The demand for Content makes our creations secondary to mathematical formulae and marketing calculations.  Content is just something we use to fill a space, the packing peanuts of the soul.  The meaning of that Content is secondary to just having something to pour into a container.

That’s what irritated me about the constant chats about Content – the value, the importance of the creative work wasn’t relevant.  You could boost the YouTube algorithm with a picture of you shirtless and silently reading Terry Pratchett or a detailed guide to creating resumes, and the result might be the same.  The idea of Content these days flattens the value and meaning of creation itself.

This situation makes it harder to become better at what you do.  When your critical goal is creating Content, then shoveling works out the door takes priority over making better works.  It’s all attention or meeting a wordcount, or whatever first, the work is secondary.

There’s a soullessness to it all and I can now put words to it.

For me, I think I’m going to think over what I make and why a little more.  I can see where I’ve fallen into the Content trap and where I’ve sought depth.  I also see where I may get distracted by “shiny Content” and not ask if it’s something I care about.

But for now, when I cringe at yet another discussion of Content I’ll know why.

Steven Savage

How Borderlands 2 Illustrates Changing Content and Involvement

As you may have guessed, some of us here are seriously digging Borderlands 2.  I’m enjoying it and am currently on the first DLC campaign AND running a second game with a DLC character.  Jose penned his own love letter to it when it first came out (where did he get the time?).  All things aside, it’s a great game, filled with references, and has a crazy cute robot named Claptrap who at one point threatens to violate a villain’s corpse.

Really, it’s great.  Also, the Commando class rules and you can’t prove me wrong.

But what’s interesting on a pro geek level, is that the game has several great lessons for those of us working in gaming and content.  Beyond the whole angry-cute-robot angle.

One of the great lessons?  Mindshare.  A lesson that shows how we need to rethink content.

Read more

Backlog and The End of Backlog

So the iPad is here to deliver our media, tablets are on their way to challenge the iPad, smartphones are there when we don't have tablets . . .

There's going to be a lot of way to get our content in the future.

Of course, not all that content is going to be new content.   Past games will be recompiled or emulated.  Comics wlll be scanned, books digitized or re-digitized.  New content is going to compete with old content.

I've speculated before about this competition – simply delivering old content in many ways is faster and cheaper, and represents a huge backlog of easy-to-deploy content.  For those of us in the content/media business, a truly geeky area, that's important as it will affect what we do and what we produce.  We need to observe this competition.

Read more