There is no ugly side of content writing. The bad taste in your mouth when hearing the term comes from its past abuses and bad practices related to perceiving writing as an errand, a tedious task, an activity to fill pages with content, lot’s of content.
This article is my attempt to remind you what every thing-finder knew well, even in the most savage days, when the content massacre took lots of text victims and keyword stuffing had totally suffocated the joy of communicating.
When you’re a Thing-finder you don’t have a minute to spare. […] The whole world is full of things, and somebody has to look for them. And that’s just what a Thing-Finder does.
Thing-finders explore, discover and connect wor(l)ds. So do content writers. They weave words with elaborate care. Their medium – the text, is the footprint of a train of thoughts with multiple doors for everyone to join. These doors are made of curiosity.
And curiosity is born of care. Although the Latin “curiositas” is rarely used in classical texts to denote caring (it was used by Cicero only once to denote ”general desire for knowledge or inquisitiveness”, ref. Security: Politics, Humanity, and the Philology of Care, by John T. Hamilton) it’s roots go back to the verb “curo”, meaning to care. If nothing else, the etymology reference provides a good way of knowing that when you are curious, you care and you respect. And it is through care and respect that you open doors for others to chose to care and respect.
In like fashion, content writing that cares to connect creates multiple entry points to your world for those interested or caring enough to enter it.
The joy of communication
Why enter a dialogue or a conversation?
For so many reasons, one of them looking deceptively simple: out of curiosity, because we are intrigued.
Texts that fascinate and intrigue, though, are not (necessarily) the ones with the most relevant keywords, the best sources selected for citing, or the ones with perfectly polished writing.
Intriguing and fascinating are the texts that provide and serve as a space for the mere joy of connecting and conversing.
Getting back to basics
For ages reading and writing were meant to seek, find and question answers. Today, the spread of digital technologies super-sized the manifestation of these functions, adding interconnectedness between all the involved parties on a scale.
Now, the quill and the pince-nez are in the hands of everyone to use.
But there’s something more. A respectful approach to texts as an inner urge is now a competitive advantage. As it is a responsibility. As the digital environment, from a place where we tried to construct “another” identity, becomes a clearer representation of who we are, transparency and openness turn out to be the most efficient way of travelling and interacting across the Web. Now we can explore, develop, and enjoy this network of networks envisioned at the very creation of the World Wide Web.
In such an environment thing-finders have even more to discover. The fractal nature of the Web did spur all kinds of ways to practice and understand thing-finding. Content writing was one of them. Today it is pure joy, when practiced with care and curiosity.
A reminder: writing is magic, an enriching practice, a business opportunity
New Clue #17: A teenager’s first poem, the blissful release of a long-kept secret, a fine sketch drawn by a palsied hand, a blog post in a regime that hates the sound of its people’s voices — none of these people sat down to write content.
— New Clues (Cluetrain Manifesto)
On the Web, just like in other weblike society structures, noise and signal, “lies” and “truths” live and grow together, despite some high-browed opinions that this is “unacceptable”. What this means for writing is that it’s everyone’s personal responsibility and choice to add to the farrago, to stay indecisively stuck in older, uncooperative, non transparent structures, or to use this magic tool called text to open business opportunities and contribute to a the kaleidoscope of perspectives and understandings.
The changes in the way we search, access the Web and navigate it are now taking writing home, where it belongs. It is again part of the deep labyrinth of communication and meaning transfer. And not only that but gradually texts get back from a mimicking the language system form, to:
[…] not simply a communicational apparatus, but a device which questions the previous signifying systems, often renews them, and sometimes destroys them.
cit. Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language by Umberto Eco
In an ever-expanding web of meaning, every time we write, we sow seeds of collaboration, of business, of exchange. They further grow and blossom, as romantic as this might sound, and the beauty of the semantic web unfolds before our eyes. The mapping of our (and other people’s) digital activities and relationships serves as “binoculars” for us to see more clearly distant opportunities. [I will elaborate on the connection between good writing and the semantic web in a future post]
It’s all about the worthwhile experiences and our ability to create and communicate them with care through writing.
But don’t take my thing-finder’s word for that. Go, set off on a journey, explore, connect and feel the joy of communicating for yourself. And when you get back to writing pay the joy forward. Make the world a better text, full of passion and surprises. Lot’s of surprises.