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Why “content” is an ugly but necessary word

valuable original contentI dislike the word content as much as anyone. So does Paul Graham, as he explains in his essay Post-Medium Publishing: “The word suggests an undifferentiated slurry. But economically that’s how both publishers and audiences treat it. Content is information you don’t need.”

Compare and contrast: Being in the magazine business is being in the business of creating glossy objects that people pay money for and display on their coffee tables. But being in the content business is creating something that people don’t need.

It’s not quite as glamorous to be one of too many people supplying vastly more content than people are generally willing to pay for.

Forget about debates on pay walls and metered fees for Web reading. The larger question is, will people pay more for “quality” content, whatever the circumstance or gimmick? The answer, so far, has been no. Not enough people are willing to pay for journalism to keep living wage journalism afloat.

Elsewhere
Virginia Heffernan explains that why there are no true magazines online

[image courtesy of 10ch/Flickr]

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