Everything is now “content”
The Future. They say content is king, but in a world where everything online has become content, most of it fails to rise above anything else. How we got to that level playing field is a tale of the Internet over the past decade, but breaking out of that endless content cycle may require a new type of Internet or a reversion back to old-school analog methods that let the Internet build the buzz for you.
The constant-attention economy
The Internet of 2022 only has one question for users: “are you not entertained?”
Writing in the New Yorker, Kyle Chayka breaks down how and why “content” became the engine of our online lives:
- While the Internet was designed in such a way to help spread user-generated content, it became monetized and searchable… making the most valuable content the kind that can easily attract the most attention.
- With money coming from content that can get the most eyeballs on ads, any “piece of content” becomes franchisable, spurring on a flywheel of memes, short videos, podcasts, etc., to keep the content machine chugging.
- And, of course, the centrality of social media makes every piece of content easily shareable and monetizable for platforms… and becoming more monetizable for creators over just the past few years.
- So, those with the most “content capital” — a term coined by media historian and New School professor Kate Eichhorn — are the ones who best know how to create and distribute content most effectively.
- But since algorithms reward outsized attention, the way that most people make a living online is by amassing the largest following — more eyeballs for more content that need more ads to drive more monetization.
Just keep scrolling
People’s opinion on whether this attention economy is good or bad is a separate conversation. But in a world where everyone has become a content creator, the question on everyone’s mind is, “how do I stand out?”
There are strategies galore, but Eichhorn, in her new book aptly titled Content, notes how all forms of content — regardless of “genre, medium, or format” — exist in a “single and indistinguishable flow.” Your JPEG of a piece of fine art is in the feed next to a meme… making it all just part of the same noise.
Everything is content.