What is ‘content‘? As usual, definitions are hard to get right. As usual, all depends on the context.
For me it is clear: the term “content” is most appropriate in the context of “content management tools”, specifically those tools where several types of content are mixed together in a single application. So you might say “content” is the generic word for many categories of more or less creative and certainly digital deliverables, like articles, drawings, photographs, books, tweets, movies, etc.
I agree with Tim Bray: if the word “content” turns up in a business plan, then it may well mean “shit we don’t actually care about but will attract eyeballs and make people click on ads“. There are already more than enough ads on the Web, thank you!
There is another word that is hard to explain on one hand, and laughed at as being a thing of the (recent) past on the other: “blogging” (or “web logging” as it was called originally). When I started a site on the famous “EditThisPage.com”, I was just looking for a cheap way to build a website without having to code every page in HTML from the ground up. Yes, I called it a “weblog”, but I didn’t really understand what that meant – in fact, I once tried to convince Dave Winer that a “web log” should always, in each and every post, contain links to the Web… It took me some time to understand that strange word “blog”: it’s just a way to describe the behaviour of the tool that handles (a part of) a website. The “content” (there’s that word again) being published can be short, as in a “linkblog”, or long, as in an “article” or “paper” – and I’m limiting myself to textual publications, but that’s my choice, not mandatory for a blog.
From day one on, my “blog” contained more than blog posts – the “More…” tab on top of this page contains (badly categorized) writings that I thought would be more permanent in nature than the blog posts. I’m no longer sure the distinction is worth emphasizing, but remember: the meaning of words depends on the context, and the passing of the years has shifted the context as well. Jeffrey Zeldman captures the essence of that temporal shift when he writes “This is a Website” on his blog! And so, in the end of this “blog post”, Dave Winer was the one who saw the future: anything goes on a blog/website, as long as it is “the natural expression of the unedited voice of an individual“. If we can’t have that on the Web, then the Web has no place in my life.