One day in late December, I woke up and the thought popped into my head: I‘m going to make a little video every day for a year… starting TODAY. I think in the back of my mind, I’d been ruminating on doing something like this, but the immediacy of the TODAY was sudden and new.
In the next five seconds, I thought Well, if I’m going to do a year, shouldn’t I wait until January 1st? But even as I thought that, I knew if I waited, at all, I would start planning it out, realize the whole thing was dumb and not do it.
So I told Paul, who was also waking up, my plan, along with its on-the-fly, less-than-creative name, “300 Days of Content.” After he finished grumbling that my plan was going to impact his plan to start running again (he had apparently been struck at the same moment by the impetus to start a project) he deemed it a good idea. He generally believes I could benefit from being less premeditated and precious in my creative life, and also knows I’ve been paying for an Adobe Premiere subscription for going on three years, and barely using it.
Thus 300 Days of Content project was born.
Which is ironic, because, for years, I’ve been resisting content — at least the term as we use it today.
Once upon a time, before the early 2000s, the word content used to refer to what what a work of art or literature contained. The content of a story was the plot and the characters etc.
But with the advent of the internet it came refer to “any form of digital media that is created and distributed online.” In the beginning, this was mostly text-based, because that’s what the technology allowed, but as the technology evolved so that everything is online, the definition has also evolved to include images, audio, video etc.
The first time I remember clocking the word content used in the “new” way was probably about 2006. I was in Florida, immersed my Creative Writing MFA program and someone on my new Facebook account was talking about generating content. I remember feeling irritated. The way she was talking, it sounded like if someone wrote a Facebook post, it was content and if someone wrote the new War and Peace, it was also be content. Here I was, investing my sweat, tears, time and money into becoming an artist, and now this yokel was reducing all my work — all of everyone’s work — down to one thing? What the hell?
Nearing two decades later, we call television shows and films content. Reality shows are content. Enormous essays in magazines are long form content. Podcasts are audio content. TikTok videos are content. This blog is content. The contents of the content—its goodness, badness, worthy-of-existence-ness — is a secondary consideration to be discussed in think pieces that are also content.
Man, 2006-Barrington would have railed against this with energy and conviction.
But 2023-Barrington is tired and no longer knows anything.
Maybe insisting on evaluating and categorizing the contents of the content simply old-fashioned and elitist. Maybe I’m just yucking on everybody’s yum. Though not really, “everybody” because who’s listening to me anyway? Which I guess means I’m just yukking on my own yum.
All because I don’t like a word.
Because I’ve actually always loved making stuff. Drawing, tie-dying T-shirts, making up skits, improvising dances, writing this blog — all compulsive acts of creation, resulting in stuff. Stuff can be dumb and it doesn’t matter (at least at first). It doesn’t have to be subject to self-assigned stakes or agendas.
And isn’t content just another word for stuff?
So I’m making some stuff, and calling it 300 Days of Content.
(It’s a learning expedition, and I think I’ll eventually explore housing all 300 videos on a YouTube channel or on this website, but the fastest and easiest tool to get started was TikTok, (which then shares to Instagram) so for the moment that’s where my stuff is.)