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Exploring the information space
The highlight of Intelligent Content Conference – at least for me – was Noz Urbina’s presentation that caps over two years of research into how the mind works, and the consequences of this on how we communicate… on how we need to design our communications so they are most effective.
To influence behaviour, we must understand behaviour. And behaviour begins and ends in the mind.
So, to the mind. As humans, we are born with our brains unformed. The new-born’s brain is a single large mass: not yet divided into hemispheres, the cortex lacking the crinkles we expect to see. That definition of the brain’s structure comes from learning. And learning is the construction of semantic models. Indeed, we have a natural need to create models. (Infants who are aware there are models they could be creating, but denied access to the experimentation to build them – e.g. they can only watch others play, not participate themselves – will express their frustration loudly.)
The day-two keynote at Intelligent Content Conference saw Barry Slaughter Olsen look at the world of translation, to show how computer-driven services may be expanding the resources we have available to us, but they are not a threat to real professional services.
Have you ever read Tolstoy? Can you imagine his work being translated by Google? The nuances of language – the expressions of human experience, the emotional subtext – cannot be understood or captured by a computer. The process of creating, especially where what we create is intended to stir emotional resonance, is an inherently human activity. On this basis alone, there are some things that computers as they currently function will never be able to handle, so the people skilled in those disciplines will always out-perform them.
This does not mean that humanity and technology cannot work together. They can. We see it happening all around us. Read more of this post
Though Christiaan Lustig’s session was actually titled “Dealing with top tasks in ‘static’ and ‘mobile’ contexts,” the most important point was not about the top tasks per se, but a better understanding of what the term “mobile context” should really mean.
We hear repeatedly (from the likes of Karen McGrane) that mobile is massive – that a huge portion of the population only have mobile devices, and that for many it is their only means of accessing the web. Consequently, they say, the mobile context is really important.
Christiaan’s take is different. Starting with an example of checking train times in a Dutch site, he explained how the night before, his need was to find the right route, and understand how long the journey would be. But on the day of travel, while stuck on a train that was delayed by 10 minutes, his use of the same site related to understanding the impact of that delay on a journey he was in the middle of – how the missed connection would impact the remainder of his trip. Read more of this post
As part of the general events at Intelligent Content Conference, Ann Rockley (AR) moderated a panel discussion on the wider aspects of content, breaking down the barriers between content strategy, content marketing and the technology that supports them. The panellists were: Kristina Halvorson (KH), Joe Pulizzi (JP), Buddy Scalera (BS), and Cleve Gibbon (CG).
Starting from the strategy perspective, Kristina reminded us that the deluge of useless stuff we are experiencing on the internet is largely a result of the “get content, get customers” mind set. Which we all know does not work. Instead, she suggests, we need to focus on strategy, and the mechanism whereby it focuses us by removing inappropriate options.
Buddy raised the interesting, and germane, point that analytics is a skewed approach to understanding what our customer base wants, and how we can best serve them. If we focus solely on those who come to us, and predominantly on those who interact, we are missing the voices of the majority who do not. The experiences and opinions gathered are distorted by the interactions we have made available; the messages we have used to communicate.
Also, he pointed out that the general metaphor of a “marketing funnel” used so freely by those in marketing is inherently flawed. If you tried to fill up the car using a “funnel” that only got 10% of your fuel into the tank… Read more of this post
Joe Pulizzi’s opening keynote at Intelligent Content Conference was dominated by the marketing aspects of content. Looking at the subject from the human perspective of packrat behaviour, Joe compared this to corporate web sites: the accumulation of junk that just keeps on filling space. (And no one cares about.)
Instead of simply creating more stuff, a louder noise, in the hopes of being heard, Joe suggests having a content mission statement against which all content is measured. That which does not meet the identified criteria simply does not get created (and certainly does not get posted). For this to work, the mission statement must be realistic.
A core aspect of the mission statement approach is identifying your audience. As Joe put it, “You cannot boil the ocean.” You must look to excite a specific, defined and limited audience. Read more of this post