Rethinking content

Hanging Coffins in Sagada, the Philippines:
Is this your content? (CC 2.0)

In the small town Internet, content is not an object. It is an outcome.

Which is why I have a problem with the word content. It connotes that communications are lonely and static. But words and images in any media are worthless unless they communicate meaning to the people who read, hear or watch them. Communication opens a two-way street: a dynamic dialog in search of persuasive or usable meaning.

Communications, seen for what they should be, can bring meaning to technology whether your job is to create it, to manage it, to use it or to sell it. Good writing, good storytelling, good rhetoric* and good artistic presentation make or break the power of your message and its meaning. And unless your communications engage the reader/user/prospect, they mean nothing.

The goal is not to throw content against the wall and see what sticks. It is to open up dialogs that move people to think or feel or act. The goal of any communication in any medium is to elicit a response (silence is a response, just not the one you want) and then to adapt to that response. A company’s communications should reveal that its attitude and purpose is to encourage dialog with stakeholders, both external and internal.


* Some people use the term rhetoric as an insult. I use it as a neutral term meaning “the art of persuasion.” Marketing communications are commercial rhetoric, which we all know can be good, bad or indifferent.

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Posted in Communicate Your Technology, Technical Documentation

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