My Next Webinar – Join me for “Building Loyalty by Product Design – When customers become stakeholders”

Thursday, 14 August at 14:00 CEST, 1:00 pm BST, 8:00 am EDT

My next free webinar takes a content strategist’s approach to the use of social media to feed back into product design and build customer loyalty.

Once a customer buys your product or service, it becomes the main communications channel with your company. That means that the content contained in your product (interfaces, messages, manuals, ergonomics and esthetic design, etc.) must be on message with the rest of your content strategy. One way to build that message, and improve product design in the process, is to build true integrated communities of stakeholders that include your customers as equal players with your internal teams: design, development, marketing, management, etc.

These communities are far from a simple Facebook page, or “user forum.” They require attention, care, and feeding, and the reward is a degree of loyalty money can’t buy.

Sign up to attend

Posted in Recommendations | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Has a License to Drive the Information Superhighways?

The former U.S. Vice President Al Gore coined the term, “information superhighways” to describe the Internet. It was a great political slogan, and Gore was certainly one of the most internet-friendly U.S. political figures (and one of the first). But that doesn’t mean the term has legs.

A superhighway, for example, has a speed limit – well, just about everywhere except Germany, that is. Does Internet have one? I suppose it might, purely in terms of capacity – but not for the kinds of reasons that motivate automobile speed limits. In fact, we limit driving speed for safety – but on the Internet, the faster the better, and speed limits are seen as an impediment to efficient operation, not a safety regulation.

To drive on a superhighway, you need a driver’s license. Are we willing to pass an examination to drive on the Internet superhighway? Should we be? Personally, I think not.

In many countries, superhighways have tolls that pay for their maintenance and provide a profit to a concessionaire. We do pay our ISP’s, but in general, we don’t seem to think they provide good maintenance of our routes. And now, they are wanting to control what makes, models, and colors of car can drive on their highways.

In short, the traditional model of superhighways includes some sort of pay-per-distance, the need to be licensed to use it, and other forms of legal and social controls, that in general, Internet users have been reluctant to accept.

Why is it that we think it’s OK to have our cars registered with the government, our drivers’ licenses issued by the government (which can then track us thanks to both), and to have a whole raft of laws affecting how we drive and how fast, that restrict our “freedom” of movement – yet we are not willing to have analogous controls for navigating the world’s info-paths?

My best guess has two components:

  • The Internet is NOT a system of superhighways – it has a meta-existence that only a few roads have ever known (The Silk Road, Route 66…)
  • The Internet functions in the realm of ideas – and we do not take well to “thought control.”

In this post, I’ll deal with the first component.

Continue reading

Posted in Rants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wayfinding and Blogger’s Block

I’m horrified to notice that I haven’t posted here since March! OK – I admit it – I’ve been blocked. Not writer’s block – I have no problem writing, I’ve been writing all sorts of things since March. Nope. It’s the accursed BLOGGER’S BLOCK (and here you bring in the horror music…). By that I mean, I have so much to write about, and so little time for anything (like paying work, for example) that when I do get a moment, I resist.

  • Perhaps, among all the things I meant to write about, I can’t choose which to start with.
  • Perhaps, among all the things people have asked me to write about, I can’t prioritize.
  • Perhaps, among all the things that have inspired me to write, I can only remember a few.

Perhaps all of the above. Perhaps I couldn’t decide.

Perhaps I just couldn’t find my way…

…which reminds me of a blog I’ve been meaning to write. Continue reading

Posted in Rants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Open Letter to my STC Colleagues

Update: Most of you will already know that I was re-elected with a nice proportion of the vote. Unfortunately, participation in this year’s STC election was slightly down from last year, at 14.98%. I had really hoped that more STC members would vote.

 

Dear Fellow STC Members,

As you know, voting began today for the STC Elections. Most of you know I’m a candidate for re-election, but this is not about my candidacy. This is a plea for you to cast your vote – for whomever you think is the best candidate.

Last year, only 16% of our members voted. This is more or less average for association elections these days, but I wonder if we can’t do better.

I remember before I became involved in Society governance, that the elections seemed distant to me. I didn’t recognize candidates’ names, they were folks across the ocean. I knew little or nothing about society affairs, and it all seemed unimportant to me. Then I began reading the candidates’ statements. Honestly, that only brought society matters a little closer to me. There was no grand ephiphany. But just reading the candidates’ positions on issues that maybe I only partly understood helped me to get a sense of who they were. And once I did that, I started to make choices about which of them I wanted to see on the board of directors.

Today, STC faces many difficult issues, and though we have made progress, we are not out of the woods. Fortunately, all the candidates are dedicated people who care deeply about STC and its future. Each has a slightly different vision of what that might be and how to get there – and your selection will determine the course that STC takes in the next year or two.

I urge you, then, to please take the time to read all the candidate statements, make your own independent choice, and cast your ballot. If we can raise the number of voters, we automatically raise the strength of the mandate our winning candidates receive.

Like any candidate, I hope folks vote for me – but I prefer for you to vote for another candidate than to abstain from voting. Please don’t wait – take some time to learn about each of us, and add your voice. You, as an STC member, will be the beneficiary.

Posted in Rants, Recommendations | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

First Steps: Structured Content Strategy Spain

Last week, we had the first Structured Content Strategy meeting in Spain (to our knowledge) organized by Urbina Consulting and Blue Stream Software in Valencia. The turnout, as expected, was small. OK – it was WAY smaller than expected. Still, it was the occasion for a few practitioners to start to make some headway towards creating a community in this country where “content” as a business asset is still unknown or misunderstood, and many content professions don’t even exist in the official repertory of professions.

Continue reading

Posted in Rants, Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

EuroIA – Design for Good

I can’t begin to express how much this year’s EuroIA conference affected me – in so many positive ways.

This was a conference of Information Architects, which I attended for the first time 2 years ago, in Prague. This year’s edition was in Edinburgh, and I was pleased and honoured to be included among the speakers.

What struck me most about the programme, was that without having any announced theme, almost all the presentations, from Lisa Welchman’s opening keynote to the closer by Andrea Resmini, touched at some point on the need for those of us who design and develop content and the systems that deliver content to people to think humanistically, to be ethical, to think about doing – or “designing for” – good. Continue reading

Posted in Recommendations, Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Summerfall Conference Season

In June and September your Humanist Nerd spoke at four different conferences. In this post, I’ll tell you about UA Europe, Congility, and TCUK. I’ll save a separate post for EuroIA.

UA Europe – In a Class By Itself

UA Europe has always struck me as different from other tech comm conferences in Europe. I’m not totally sure why, but the audience seems a bit different – perhaps with more of a traditional tech WRITING orientation. This is not to say that they aren’t interested in new aspects of tech comm practice, just that they may be more preoccupied with the specific writing aspects.
Continue reading

Posted in Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment