Content and Data

Responding to Seth Gottlieb, who argues that content is not data:

Each of the four things you say content 'has' are external to the content:

- Content has a voice... the person who created the content may be trying to communicate something, but content is inert, and does not 'try' to do anything

- Content has ownership... ownership is a social convention and not inherent to content

- Content is intended for a human audience... same thing as the first point - the intention is in the human, not the content

- Content has context... everything has context, not just content. Context is the environment in which content finds itself, both historically and in the present moment. By definition, context is external to content.

Significantly, if the things that distinguish content from data are all external to content, it follows that content is not inherently distinct from data, but becomes distinct only through out attitudes toward it and the history of its use.


  1. So, content is 'date with attitude'?

  2. Well - some would argue, data with propositional attitude.

  3. It's astonishing that this arises as a debatable topic. Content is just a description of data that is being used in certain ways.

    Arguing about what those ways are might be a lot more interesting.

  4. Actually, quite a lot turns on this.

    You say, "...just a description." Does this entail that content is propositional in form?

    Does content have (necessarily) grammar and syntax?

    Are there 'mental contents'?

  5. An excellent post/comment (depending on the context), and a well-expressed argument. I also enjoyed your OLDaily link to Deutsch's review. It's nice to see some more formal perspectives referenced in a philosophical discussion.


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