The internet has infantilized content. Before, content was extremely hard to create in any form, as it would take a lifetime to build something that people could consume. Now it only takes small blips in time to throw something consumable out in the ether for an audience to chew on. That’s a great thing, but it can also blind us to the accomplishment and amazement of what content formerly was.
In the physical world, it is almost impossible to spend a moment of your day without being touched by a piece of “content” that took a lifetime to create.
I wake up in an apartment building that took years to build, on the backs and equity of someone and something that was acquired over decades. I brush my teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste that was concocted in a lab over years, manufactured in a building that likely took hundreds of people to construct, and marketed by a team that compiled expertise tirelessly in a classroom and through decades of applying theory to practice. I tie the shoelaces of my Nikes, whose arrival at my doorstep was simplified by a beautifully weaved supply-chain management system spread over the globe, constructed on the sweat equity of thousands. I take an elevator whose implementation is the construct of an architect who molded usability, aesthetic beauty and efficiency over decades so I can use it for five seconds and not think twice. I ride in my car to work with fuel and compact discs whose construction was centuries in the making. I read a book whose synthesis is a combination of a life of knowledge acquisition and priceless lessons learned.
I live in Seattle Washington. In the big cities especially, it is impossible to not walk out and be touched by something that took decades to construct, whether literally or figuratively. The people responsible for each little piece of your physical world spent their lifetimes so you could brush those teeth, ride that car, have that bed, turn the light on in your room, or enjoy the aroma of a well-constructed glass of wine.
This is content before there was content. This is great content before “great content” was ever said.
Any time I need to be inspired by others, to build “great content” or anything at all that can do something good, all I have to do is think about the physical content world, and how much great, slaved-over accomplishment there is, there. How inspiring it is that thousands of hours were poured into the ability for me to sit here, now, in this city, and type this on a keyboard to send something instantly to you.
When you start seeing the physical world in terms of “content” as we do now in the electronic one, it’s easier to be inspired to do more of that epic-level content generation ourselves. When that happens, it makes it easier to maybe write one more sentence or spend one more minute building something online in hopes that yeah, maybe, it’s possible that we can someday replicate the incredible impact of that awe-inspiring physical content, too.
For more quick-change knowledge, check out my most recent column on Search Engine Land, Improve Your Link Prospecting With Reductive Queries.