Context Statement: This is an article review of an academic journal. It demonstates research, analysis, and critical thinking

With the continuing pervasiveness of digital media, one question weighs on every writer’s mind, whether they are students, teachers, or professionals. Is this new digital era going to be the extinction or the evolution of writing as a craft? In her 2015 article, “When Writing Become Content,” Lisa Dush, an assistant professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse at DePaul University, explores this new relationship between writing and content. While this article was published several years before this review, the importance of this discussion has only grown.

Defining Content

Technology and Writing Working together

            Dush begins her argument by defining “content” as conditional, computable, networked, and commodified. Content is conditional because, unlike a book or article, it is characterized by “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” (Dush). This means content is always subject to change, in format, platform, etc. Computable represents how all content is also mathematical data to machines, which means machine audiences and algorithms have to be taken into consideration. Content is networked, or available through the web to an unpredictable audience, which why content creators and strategists prefer adaption, using content’s fluidity to their advantage. Finally, content is commodified because, because of the capitalist and commercial nature of our society, value will always be in terms of profit.

Writing and Content as Metaphors

            Dush continues by defining writing as a metaphor, exploring its commonly associated identities, materials and roles. Next, Dush discusses how the main interaction between writing and the digital space is “multimodal writing,” which incorporates images, audio, and video into the text while keeping an intentional platform and audience. Dush argues that, “The writing metaphor does not help us see how templates or modules in content management systems, designed to optimize certain automated actions (e.g., serving different content to different devices; aggregating posts into a news feed with uniform design features) circumscribe rhetorical possibilities”(Dush). In other words, while writing composition has taken steps forward in digital space, it fails to account for all the factors of content and is often skipped over by the algorithms.

Integrating Content

            Dush’s next section compares and contrasts writing and content, with the main distinction being writers are characterized as craft-persons, while content creators are characterized as strategists and managers. She also gives a brief history of the relationship between the technical communication field and writers, noting an increasing tendency to narrow the role of the writer. She then gives an overview of content strategy and its core principles of substance, structure, workflow, and governance, and how these are principles writers can easily relate to and implement.

            Dush’s main proposal of the article is to begin integrating writing-as-content terms, strategy, and technological literacy into the education of writers, stating, “We might also consider creating courses that share language with the content professions, both to better signal to employers that our students are prepared to do content work, and to offer students opportunities to engage directly with content as a concept and set of practices” (Dush). In her conclusion, Dush states that this implementation should be done both with caution and through the advocation of the core values of the writing field.

            While the line between content and writing has even more aggressively blurred since this article was written, it still has many valid points. Dush summarizes her primary theme by stating,

 “There is some urgency that writing teachers teach aspiring professional writers (certainly our minors, majors, and graduate students, and perhaps even the writers we teach in first-year and upper-division service courses) about writing-as-content and content-related professional practices…to avoid being written out of the work of writing, perhaps writers must indeed become experts at working with writing-as-content”


As exemplified by content’s commodified quality, writers today have to have the technical literacy expected by employers; if education can give knowledge and skill of content to writers, not only can they be successful in their careers, they can put more craft into their writing.

Caution or Opportunity?

While Dush certainly has bias towards writing, she does a good job of making the article a dialogue between the two sides, as she states in the conclusion, “Throughout this essay, I have discussed reasons to embrace content and reasons to remain skeptical of it.” She shows the strengths and limitations of both, and how elements of both can be implemented when they overlap. Her long explanations and block quotes can be tedious to read, but her excellent definitions and figures more than make the article worth reading.

Much like many of the writers Dush quotes, I am also intimidated by the push towards technology. My age group, born in the late 90’s, have the unique perspective of being old enough to have seen the transition to digital platforms and social media, while being young enough to not be disconnected from it. I never thought I would need to know how to use anything besides a word processor. However, as my education has exposed me to content production, as Dush proposes, I see not only opportunities for a successful career, but also opportunities to refine and share my craft.

Works Cited

Dush, Lisa. “When Writing Becomes Content.” NCTE, National Council of Teachers of English, Dec. 2015,