The Birth of Content

Presentation Abstract
As will come as no surprise to an audience made up of “word nerds”, how we use terminology tends to shift over time. The reasons for changes in usage can vary. But that they do change is beyond question. One of the central terms that we use within the community of information developers is “content”. This talk looks at how the use of this special term has changed over the last few decades and at what this change tells us about the nature of content. In tackling this topic, your speaker is not only indulging in a self-confessed love for language and history. Your speaker hopes to show that what we learn about content by following its usage trajectory will inform, in many highly practical ways, how we set about managing and leveraging content as an asset.

What can attendees expect to learn?

If things unfold as planned, attendees will either come away with a new understanding of what the word “content” means, and therefore what it means to manage and leverage it, or they will come away with strengthened feelings about why the proposed definition is wrong and why theirs is superior. Either way the discourse about the key terms that we use in our community will be improved. I am reasonably sure that this session will not degenerate into a brawl as might befit a Canadian Hockey game. But when communicators have their most dearly held definitions challenged anything can happen….

Meet the Presenter

JoeGollnerJoe Gollner is the Director of Gnostyx Research Inc. ( where he leads an interdisciplinary team in providing lean content solutions to organizations around the world. He has been active in the content management industry for over twenty-five years. A former artillery officer in the Canadian Army, he is a graduate of Queens University (Mathematics and Literature) and the University of Oxford (Masters of Philosophy). He blogs as the Content Philosopher ( and is still working on a book about ʺEngineering Contentʺ. In 2014, he received the Matthew Arnold faculty award from the University of Oxford for recent contributions made to the field of Digital Humanities.

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