Pot Shots: They’re So Easy

It’s been 15 years since I moved out of Paris, and three and a half since I stopped going there regularly to work. And still, I find myself feeling that the recent assault in the French capital was an assault on “my” city. It was also an assault on human dignity.

As I think about it, and grieve, I am also struck by how much this issue hinges on questions of communication.

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Words Are Important

Back in the 80s, when I worked in radio, I remember very vividly the words of Andre Codrescu, a writer and commentator on NPR, the U.S. national public radio network. Codrescu came to the U.S. escaping Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania. In one commentary, he was recalling some event involving either protest, writing, or both. I no longer recall what the event was, but I remember this sentence:

In Romania, words have power. You can go to jail for them.

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Millenials and Social Networking – A Critique

Someone directed me to a post about Millenials and Social Networking, It is written by someone who, I imagine, is a member of that generation, and yet I find it totally – but totally – wrong.

I wanted to reply in situ but it seems you need to log onto Facebook to do so. I don’t do Facebook, so I’m posting my reply here:

I’m not a millenial, but a baby boomer, and I take umbrage at the proposition that simply because sites like Twitter and Pinterest foster curation, people have lost the ability (or desire?) to be creative. “To everything there is a season” and a place, as well. We use different social media for different purposes. Curation is not simply imitation, it’s also selection, and that means practicing a discriminatory ability, critical reading, etc.

Generation Y does have problems that are specific to it – so did we, so does every generation. So what? If you look at the research, the notion of Gen Y as narcissistic comes from my generation, not from the data. Gen Y is creating what Henry Jenkins refers to as the “Participatory Culture,” something we individualists have had a hard time doing, especially after we hit middle age, and certainly in our dotage.

Let’s stop promoting clichés and look at real data, real people, and real situations. The world has become a harder place than it was in our youth, let’s help younger people cope with it, instead of dumping on them. Otherwise, what was the “summer of love” for?

Who Has a License to Drive the Information Superhighways? – part 2

Quite a while ago, I promised a second part to my critique of the analogy of Internet with Superhighways. As usual, sloth, and other pressing emergencies made it fade into the background. But with the U.S. Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) ruling on Net Neutrality still fresh and shiny, this seems like the moment to make good on that promise.

Before Internet of Things – Internet of Ideas

The phenomenon known as Internet of Things – where intelligent, connected objects communicate and take decisions without human intervention – could not exist if we didn’t already have an internet where the majority of communication remains textual (like this blog, for instance). We tend to prefer familiar models, and the model of written communication is one that is deeply embedded in Western cultures.

But the Internet is also a natural transmedia vector, and we already see stories being told by parallel text, video, audio, fixed image, and other kinds of content, on multiple screens. To get the whole story, you have to engage with all the different media that are used to tell it, and none of them has the complete lowdown. We use very different perceptual equipment to understand each of these media, and they happen simultaneously. This is so far away from any kind of superhighway analogy – we are, in fact, in the realm of parallel universes!

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Transformation Society Collaborations with Adobe: Comprehensive Links

Update, 17 September 2015: Adobe has a new platform for its recorded webinars. Links to the recordings are now updated and will work correctly.

It is important to follow the Instructions for viewing them, which is also updated.

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As Promised, here is a full set of links to the materials for two series of collaborations between The Transformation Society and Adobe Technical Communications Division. Enjoy!Logo_transformationSociety_Small

  • 2013: Crossing Boundaries: Implications for the Content Industries
  • 2014: Tech Challenges: Surfing and Diving Deeplogo_unit_1.5x1.5

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The Transformation Society

The Transformation Society LogoFor some time now, some of you have heard me speak of The Transformation Society. The idea came when we were talking about The Information Society, and realized that what was needed was not more information, but transformation! Transformation of information into useful knowledge, transformation from aggregation (a collector’s mentality) to diffusion (a community sharing mentality). Transformation from immobility to dynamic flexibility; from habit to exploration; from fixed diplomas to lifelong learning.

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The Importance of Labels

Those who work in certain regulated industries, most especially the pharmaceutical field, know that labels are important. In fact, companies have people who do nothing but manage the labels of their products, and the language on them. This is because a change of even the positioning of a comma can require going through a regulatory re-approval process.

While this might seem like a lot of bureaucratic hassle to some, the reasoning is that a minor typographical error on a label can cost lives.

There are many aspects of life other than technical communication where this is true, and I have recently had the sad occasion to experience one case.

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