I heard a radio presenter the other morning, talking to a caller.
He asked the caller what sort of music he liked.
The caller said he had everything by the Beatles.
The presenter said “Me too, I love their stuff.”
The presenter had a young female sidekick.
She said “Yeah, but you’ve got it all on CD.”
The presenter said “Don’t you listen to the Beatles then?”
She said “Of course I do, but I’ve got it downloaded, you’re just old fashioned.”
The caller said “Well I don’t know what you’ll think of me then. All mine is on vinyl.”
They both gasped “Vinyl?”
The caller said “Yes, I prefer the sound on vinyl, it’s more authentic.”
The presenter said “Fair point, but I like CDs because the sound is cleaner.”
The young woman said “We’re in the 21st century now.
You don’t have to have racks of plastic, just download it and you get all the music without the clutter.”
The presenter said “Well there you are, three different views on how to listen to music. But one thing we all agree on is what music to listen to, so let’s play some right now.”
And they went into a Beatles track.
And I thought that’s a really good demonstration of content.
See, I’d been confused by content.
I had seen the word being used everywhere and I felt left out.
Even ‘The 2012 Custom-Content Conference’.
What was content, why was it important, and why didn’t I know about it?
Well it turns out it’s just a clever switch between the container and what’s in the container.
The container is the delivery system.
Content is what gets delivered.
Because new media gurus want to sound more important, they reposition the process.
They turn it on its head so the delivery system is what’s really important.
And what goes into it is just stuff to be delivered.
As if the delivery system came before what goes into it.
Well not quite.
Without anything to go into it, we wouldn’t need a delivery system.
No one sends empty envelopes in the mail.
Waiters don’t give you empty plates in a restaurant.
You don’t order a round of empty glasses in a pub.
You don’t gift wrap empty boxes as presents.
No one goes to the cinema unless there’s something on the screen.
You don’t go to an art gallery unless there’s something on the walls.
You don’t watch the telly when it’s switched off.
And you don’t listen to an iPod, CD, or a vinyl disc unless it’s got some music on it.
In this case the Beatles was the content.
Which worked across all the different formats.
So the important stuff is the content.
And the content is what we’ve always been doing.
And the content can be available through any delivery system.
Because the content is the creative part.
The rest is just technology.
And the technology is there to facilitate content.
Not the other way round.
Without the technology, the content would still be there.
We’d find another way to deliver it.
But without the content, the technology wouldn’t be there.
This blog first appeared on Campaign UK