Content vs Information: What’s the difference?

Content Management, Information Governance, Information Architecture, Content Models… People throw around these terms all the time and for many the use of “Content” and “Information” are almost synonymous. But actually they’re different and here I’ll give you some simple definitions.
If you asked the editor of a newspaper or website what was the difference between information and content they would be able to give you quite a straight answer. Information is the facts about when something happened, where it happened, when the next bus is due. Content is the editorials, the opinion pieces that take the time to write.

In a digital or Enterprise Content Management (ECM) world the usage is not quite so clear. Some people call themselves Information Architects others are Content Strategists, you can do Content Modelling and produce of course produce Information overload. So is there a simple definition we can use to distinguish the two? Well, try this.

Content implies information inside something else i.e. it is something which has contents. This could be a file, a document, a tweet, comment, image, video, blog post, physical file, shared folder or a multitude of other things which store content. The point is that:

Content is information which is inside a container.

Content Management is a way of looking after the containers. This involves moving them around, giving people access to them, creating them and destroying them.

Information is meaning contained within the content.

Going back to the previous example, a bus timetable is a Content item, but when the next bus is due is information. The information could be stored as text in a document or as an image, video etc. Content therefore contains information.

A Content Model is how you manage and store Content items. In includes setting up metadata fields and storing information about the Content such as the title, category, type etc. An Information Architecture covers all information which needs to be managed. This would include the Content items and their metadata but also any information stored elsewhere such as databases, email and even knowledge stored in people’s heads.

A Content Model contains Content Items as well as the Information they hold and which describes them. Information Architecture and Information Governance cover the Content Model and any other sources of information.