When Writing Becomes Content

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In this article I will investigate when and how writing becomes content and where the division is presented. Lisa Dush’s “When Writing Becomes Content” looks with an in depth scope on the content writing in the business world.


Lisa Dush’s When Writing Becomes Content scopes in on the fundamentals of content writing and where it fits within the various industries. She begins by addressing the definition of content and where it aligns with writing studies. Dush composes her article as if being labeled an outline— there are indented paragraphs that signify a more in-depth approach to the topics. Throughout the article, Dush circles the word “content” and where it fits in modern society. There is a specific place that writing becomes content, and where that line becomes blurry, according to Dush, on the industry, the writer finds themselves in.

When “text transforms into data” there is an implication that the writing becomes data and not substance that can sustain. Dush points to Technical Communication Quarterly in 2008 where George Pullman and Baotang Gu discuss that content exists as digital assets. These digital necessities are full of potential and are marked not by being published, but more by the content’s ability to be repurposed, and or mined. Content has extreme fluidity— and it is up to content creators to distinguish the level of this fluidity they are willing to let occur. The unlimited avenues that content can appear in are uncontrolled by the creator, however, as Dush points out this is a risk the creator must acknowledge.

The fluidity of content essentially becomes the conditional quality of content creation. As Dush puts it, “the texts become computable.” Especially with the constant publication of new material online, the content becomes data for algorithms. There becomes no significance to a writer’s work when the magnitude of similar content is reaching the masses at the same rate, or even better than others. This, in turn, puts an incredible restraint on content creators to be continually developing new pieces that are not significant to the author. Nonetheless, draining the artistry of writers who fall into the content creation ecosystem.

“No matter how well a post is crafted as writing, it is unlikely to meet its rhetorical aims if it is not also prepared as computable content.”

Dush points out the difficulties that come from content creation. The many factors that come into play when publishing articles online (with the idea that recognition and traffic will happen) are far higher than simplying posting content. SEOs, search engine optimization, is what fuels the traffic of everyday users of search engines. Without valued and particularly well-suited keywords, the article becomes almost nonexistant to the rest of the online world. Dash elaborates on the modifications that SEOs do to optimize article search results: the post’s title and first few lines may surface in search results or in recommendation engines; its images may reappear in other places on the Web.

The modification of posts and content disturbs the value that was initially put into the product. Dush finishes this claim by stating, “No matter how well a post is crafted as writing, it is unlikely to meet its rhetorical aims if it is not also prepared as computable content.” The idea that the audience scope that content creators aim towards may not be reached further draws writers away from ever pursuing content creation.

Further down the article, Dush discusses how content is networked. Dush believes that networking is the downfall of the value in writers. The push to get content out to the masses and the analytical approach to finding the perfect adwords and linguistic combinations to fulfill the quota is what she believes is driving content creators down a spiraling path. However, there seems to be a fine line to draw from her approach. Writers of literary works need to network their products too. There has to be a marketing approach to gain value and a sizable audience.

The fourth word Dush uses to describe content creation is a commodity— in simple terms, a treat. Content creation, according to Dash, is becoming the new form of literature. The use of content to tell a story, or advertise for a product through affiliate marketing has become a commodity for businesses to capture the attention of their audience quickly and swiftly. She eventually begins the dissection of content marketing and its values and the differences between it and content strategy. The rise of content marketing came from the increase in online users and the computable, networked, and commodified content published. As stated earlier, content creation became a necessity when virality became a thing. The need to reach auidence where they are, instead of the countless printed literature became a much needed strategic advancement for marketing agencies and businesses.

“Writing is connected to many things we value, and perhaps even love: books, authors, pens on paper, memories. Not so content.”

Dush views content creation as devaluing the very principals that make writers, writers. The fast-paced production of content and the increasingly large number of different audience barriers has drawn the reasons to write far away from its original state. She claims that writing designates only for books, authors and the such, however, what she fails to connect is the process of publication a content creation must endure. Writers and content creators share commonalities on all four of Dush’s arguments. Moreover, where they are different is slim and without much value to the product value that the two bring to the world.

To read Lisa Dush’s original piece.

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