Analysis of When Writing Becomes Content by Lisa Dush

By Kyra Brue

Lisa Dush’s article: When Writing Becomes Content does a great job of showing her insights on content writing; both the good and the bad. Dush strongly believes that content has become more writing based in the past several years. It’s not just about marketing or technical communication anymore. Writing has its own place in the world of content now and it is changing the way things are marketed or the way they function. Dush states, something along the lines, of content being equal to writing, and vice versa. They’re basically one in the same. Content isn’t just about posting blog posts to WordPress or tweets to Twitter, it’s almost as if it is its own organism that can change or evolve into whatever the writer desires. The article overall was an interesting read. Dush’s views on content and how it is displayed in its many different forms and networks is very developed and makes it known that content is multifaceted. It’s not just black and white. There’s much more to it than what most people see on the surface.

Dush begins her article by talking about the makeup of content. She defines content as being “conditional, computable, networked, and commodified.” (174) There are many different things that make up content. Throughout the article she goes on to talk about how content is writing. This is a common theme that she alludes to throughout the article. She then talks about the different types of content based professions that are up-and-coming and the impacts they’re going to make in the teaching field. She contemplates how content writing related courses will be integrated in the classroom. Dush wraps up her article by talking about the possible negatives that come with content writing. For example, she mentions someone having a job where they keep up with their company’s social media accounts all day, and how that job isn’t as great as the other more fulfilling content writing jobs out there today. While Dush’s essay can be slightly choppy or boring in some spots, her overall message of the marriage between content and writing stands strong throughout, making the article very informative and interesting to read.

One fascinating point that Dush made in her article was how “content has a core conditional quality, fluidity in terms of what shape it may take and where it may travel, and indeterminacy in terms of who may use it, to what ends, and how various uses may come to be valued.” (176) This perspective of content is very unique and gives content many levels. She starts by saying that the core structure of content is conditional or never changing. She then goes deeper by saying that while its core may be definite, the content’s possibilities are flexible and could go in any direction it sees fit. Going even deeper, Dush states that those who can use that content and what they can use it for are a bit vague. The way that she makes content seem less two dimensional and more complex is really interesting. People would never suspect that content has this many layers to it.

Content is strictly numerical data, according to new media theorist Lev Manovich, therefore it is always subject to change. Since algorithmic changes are seemingly inevitable, when it comes to content writing, the content ends up becoming scattered parts of the original. Like a title here or a picture there. Those parts are then thrown into different networks and it becomes more about the qualitative data of the content than the content itself. Dush states that “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.” (177) In the end it’s all about the numbers. It seems like the content of an article, blog, tweet, etc. can become meaningless or unimportant due to the amount of clicks or likes it receives. The content could be unintelligible, racist, idiotic, or even have a cat video attached to it, but if it has 10,000+ likes or clicks, it’s going to continue to circulate through all of the networks that are out there.

Towards the middle of the essay, Dush switches sides and asks an opposing yet thought-provoking rhetorical question about the possible downside of content, and the destruction it could have towards writing. Dush asks, “might content, with its machines and its standardization, simply threaten the idiosyncratic and human work of writing?”(182) This question seems to contradict a bit of what Dush had been talking about before. She states a couple of times that content and writing are interchangeable, and then throws this question out there to make the reader consider the possibility of content altering or hurting writing instead of making it better. Here, she separates the two from each other by posing a hypothetical, but possible, “what if” question. It seems like although the two work really well together, there is a chance that content could have a negative impact on writing in the future, just how people seem to think that technology, in general, has already had a negative impact on the lives and well beings of humans, so her question is plausible.

Dush’s fascinating take on content and writing helps to expand the idea of content as a whole. It brings it to a whole other level. The article has a lot of information on the relationship between content and writing and how complex that relationship really is. Throughout the essay she provides great personal insight into the process of writing becoming content while also inputting the views and ideas of other experts to back up or even oppose those thoughts. She didn’t just praise the idea of content writing, but she provided the reader with multiple viewpoints, even those that were negative or differed from one another. Overall, the article was very engaging and thought provoking, and would be a great read for anyone who is interested in content writing or writing in general.


Lit cited:

Dush, Lisa. When Writing Becomes Content. College Composition and Communication (2015) Web 4 Sept. 2018




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