18 July 2015

Writing, or that which Dare Not Speak Its Name

The emissary from the world of business consulting was fielding questions from students in my course on career planning in the humanities.  "Business consulting needs writers, right?" asked one student.  The business consulting expert visibly blanched.  "Well, not writers, exactly, but we do need..." and he went on to describe any number of key tasks--drafting surveys, communicating results to clients, producing "deliverables"--that most people would call writing.

It's no longer okay to call it that.  Spend some time looking at job ads, position descriptions, career counseling sites and it's clear that no one writes anymore: they create content.  Or they strategize content.  Or sometimes they generate those "deliverables."  Rarely do they "write."  It's a useful thing to know if you're an old-school humanities major staring down the job market.  Type "writing" or "editing" into a job search engine and you quickly reach a dead end.  Type in "content"--or prepare to BS your skill set a bit and type in "user experience"--and many more opportunities emerge.

Anyone trained to closely assess language and tease out implications--which I suspect is most of the readers of this blog--can probably spend the next 15 minutes contemplating the differences between "content" and "writing" and arrive at a conclusion about the corporatization of everything.  "Content" aims to get monetized.  "Writing" may or may not.  

"Effective content" may or may not involve "good writing," depending on the strategy in play. Obfuscation, and a warm marinade of corporate terminology, has value in realms of existence that are well above my pay grade, but then, so can wallet-opening clarity and originality.   But one dare not call it "writing" and conjure up the inevitable waste of time that goes into conveying an important idea with precision.  

1 comment :

  1. This has been going on for a long time. Forty years ago, a big advertising agency was giving away buttons which read "It's not creative unless it sells".