There seems to be some unrest upon the royal throne, as far as content strategy is concerned. Content was crowned King sometime ago, but current rumblings by the context community are calling for its dethroning.

Content v. Context

Within the blogosphere, content versus context is being highly debated. Also called curation, the idea is that quality content is determined by context.

Steve Rosenbaum of, in a column for BusinessInsider says

Content isn't King because it isn't scarce. It's everywhere, it's overwhelming, and it's gone from quality to noise.

On her blog, Digital Word, web content evangelist, Kristina Mausser writes:

I argue that, in time, as we strive to further define our roles as Content Strategists we will, in fact, find ourselves boxed in by the very title we have given ourselves. Because, in reality, we are Context Strategists – extracting, deriving, interpreting, and conveying meaning using whatever technology is at hand. [sic]

The abundance of content makes the act of sifting, sorting, endorsing and sharing more necessary. Yet, not everyone knows how to, making it an essential skill for the new context strategists. Value comes not from creating content, which anyone from blogger to tweeter to book author can do, but rather from being able to refine content for the appropriate medium.

However, not everyone feels comfortable abandoning content for curation.

Paul Bradshaw, publisher and blogger for Online Publishing Blog has called out the new approach, saying

‘Curation is king’ is a comfort blanket for the afflicted, a sticking plaster for injured pride. It says nothing about the new environment in which we’re operating; it suggests we do nothing other than more of the same; and it suggests our old position as arbiters of The Truth is unaltered.

In other words, curation is the wrong word and as such we dare to offend the “real” curators, who work to enhance cultural experiences and engagement in museums and cultural institutions.

In response to Bradshaw’s venting, a commenter (Amy Thibodeau of Contentini) astutely brings the debate back to its origins by asking,

is there a better term to describe the process of bringing together and making meaning out of different kinds of content?

The content vs. context debate is necessary because it understands that the way content is development and managed is constantly changing. Yet before you can even wade into its waters, it’s crucial to understand, from an organization’s perspective, how and why content is currently developed and managed.

If content is king, its value is defined by its author or topic – something that can’t be accessed through conventional means. If context is king, it means that the way in which content is organized and found is valuable.

In determining which method reigns supreme, it may affect the systems implemented by organizations. Could context management systems be in our future?