Which Came First: Content or Community?


Back when I was the publisher of Futurism dot com, I used to go on stage at dorky futurist conferences and tell people “there was more content produced in the last hour than in all of 1990.” Just in terms of raw hours filmed, words published, songs recorded, and art produced, the proliferation of digital media has given nearly every human the tools to share an idea online.

This should not be a revolutionary concept to you; if you’re reading this newsletter you’ve likely been living in this future for most of the last decade or longer, as Taylor Lorenz’s upcoming book Extremely Online catalogs. (We’ll have a new interview with her on our Youtube soon, go subscribe now if you haven’t already). 

Like most radical ideas, it takes a minute for the rest of society to catch on, but when it does, it’s everywhere all at once. “Creator culture” is driving general culture. “Skibidi Toilet Lore” is one of our top trending search terms this month. “Rizz” has just been entered into Webster’s dictionary. Girl dinner, girl math, Swifties putting Kelce on the map. The Roman Empire (which I admittedly think about weekly) wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the digital creator community that dominates our current zeitgeist.

While the New York Times is publishing “don’t call it content” pieces as a way to differentiate the prestige of television and film from the mad chaos of the internet, I ask them: Have they spent $5 to watch ITYSL’s Conner O’Malley’s The Mask? Do they know that Chapo Trap House (get well soon Matt) makes more on Patreon per month than most local TV anchors make in a year? Bobbi Althoff and Funny Marco are playing the Beacon Theater next month, GAYLE played the U.S. Department of State last night. Creators are culture, and while “content” may be a disparaging term when used as a capitalistic unit of measure, it is still something we all find ourselves producing every time we snap a photo, write a blog, or shoot a TikTok. Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it, NYT.


So to the point of my whole thing here, which came first? The content or the community? Without going too far down the anthropological rabbit hole, a community develops around a shared interest and/or location, and content is produced when that community has something important or entertaining to share with itself. Without a community, content can exist, but it won’t be widely consumed. Without content, a community can exist, but it won’t evolve. They’re symbiotic.

At Passionfruit, we see our mission as helping creators of all sizes and stripes grow and thrive. The easiest way to do that most immediately? By featuring you and your creativity across Passionfruit and our (much larger, audience-wise) sister site, The Daily Dot.

That’s why I’m inviting you, specifically you, the creative person reading this email all the way through the heady anthropological stuff, to apply for the Passionfruit Creator’s Spotlight. 

Starting in October, you’ll start seeing more and more of your own work here in this newsletter and our social channels. From there we intend to roll out a number of invitation-only community features, tools, discounts, events, and sponsorship opportunities for those of you who are sincerely making a go at this whole internet creativity thing.

If you’d like to be a part of the early, “here before it was cool” group at Passionfruit, go follow us on our social channels, send us a DM (it’s gonna either be me, Drew, Eric, Grace, Rusama, Adelia, or Trevor responding), and most pressingly let us know that you’ve applied for the Creator Spotlight. 

There are tens of thousands of you and only 7-ish of us right now, so while it may take us a second or two, we really do want to get to know each of you, and more importantly, we want each of you to get to know each other. 

Despite what your cynical, social media-ravaged brain may assume, this entreaty is actually not about our Passionfruit community, it’s about the communities that you’re building around your own work. And it’s my sincere belief that you’ll have a much easier time building those communities and making that creative work if y’all do it together, so it’s our intention to make sure you can eventually connect, follow each other, share secrets, vent, and ultimately feel supported by one another. 

Passionfruit may have started as a newsletter promising to deliver you free news and tips relevant to digital creators, and we’ll always continue doing that. But for those of you who are serious (or even curious) about turning your passion into something more online, we’d like to help you on your way.

Apply now to have your work featured here, and don’t be a stranger on the socials (you can find our updated social links at the bottom of this email, genuine thanks to all of you who got in touch to tell us they were broken). We’ll be inviting our most engaged creators into more invite-only spaces in the coming weeks and months, so come say hi and stick around. 

Above all else, keep calm and create on.


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