The Forecast is Awesome

December 31st, 2010

That was a hell of a year. It has been a ridiculously wonderful experience to participate in and learn from the giant, piñata-studded, slightly tipsy party that has been content strategy in 2010. (On the personal side, I’ve had a lot of wonderful conversations and read a lot of spectacular things. And rather miraculously, the members of my immediate family are ending the year alive and in good health.) Read more ⇒

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

December 13th, 2010

A few weeks ago, before the snowpocalypse, I visited the lovely people at Brain Traffic in their Minneapolis lair. A visit to Brain Traffic central is a lot like walking in on the planning session at the beginning of a heist movie, except that you don’t expect everyone to get shot in the end, and the fridge is full of cupcakes. Read more ⇒

Cognitive, Schmognitive

November 18th, 2010

A few weeks ago, while in the throes of manuscript editing, I wrote a quick post about what I was doing that week. I did so to help demystify content strategy to people who want to know, as the NYC CS Meetup group would have it, what content strategists do all day.

In the post, I mentioned something I’d made for a client project: a diagram that traces the mental path we want to encourage a particular group of site visitors to take. Not specific interactions, pages or tools, but a process of gradual engagement with ideas, eventually leading to the decision to act. I’d never made this particular thing before, and I’d never seen anything quite like it elsewhere. Read more ⇒

What Do Content Strategists Do?

October 6th, 2010

In real life, content strategy falls somewhere between traditional editorial leadership, communication strategy, and information management, all of which have their own distinct connotations. It’s easy for discussions of terminology to float off into abstraction, so instead of talking about “content strategy” or what “a content strategist” does, I’m going to say what this content strategist does. Read more ⇒

The Scholar-Curator as Storyteller

August 20th, 2010

Simply holding up three or four objects—virtual or otherwise—is no more telling a story than dumping flour, sugar, and eggs onto a table is baking a cake. You have to do the work of contextualization if you want the objects to signify. Read more ⇒

A Content Book Apart

August 18th, 2010

Yes, content strategy is a real thing that real clients and employers really need. But beyond that, we’re in the infancy of a ubiquitous internet—one fully integrated into our lives and environments. The publishing world has been bitten by a radioactive wombat, and we don’t know if journalism’s going to die or mutate into something speedy and awesome. Our brains are changing in ways we don’t understand. Content work matters—yes, now more than ever—and as this thing spins faster, we’re going to need every advantage we can find. Read more ⇒

Curation Conclusions

August 17th, 2010

In the previous posts in this series, we’ve looked at “curation” in two ways: as a term for the filtering and mosaic-style storytelling bloggers and other web writers do by collecting links, and as a way of thinking about long-term content stewardship. Read more ⇒

Slouching Toward the Curatorial

August 3rd, 2010

Based on my own experience and the comments I’ve seen on content-related discussions of curation, I’m guessing that most content strategists who don’t come from the museum or art worlds don’t realize that there’s a whole field right across the hall (or perhaps in the building next door) that offers processes, perspectives, and a mature body of literature, all of which relate to our work.

My first inkling of this came early in a project I’m working on with Happy Cog Studios and Ralph Appelbaum Associates. The RAA team brought their content development process to a meeting and I brought mine, and we discovered that they covered nearly identical areas—though RAA’s was designed for years-long (and very expensive) museum projects and mine usually takes about four months to get through. As I mentioned in my last post, this kicked off a months-long reading project for me, including not only the official research conducted for the project, but the kind of unofficial, independent research I always do to try to get under the skin of a major project. Read more ⇒

The Curate and the Curator

July 29th, 2010

In the middle ages, as English began to evolve into its modern form, the curator reappears as the spiritual caretaker of the Christian church in England. Because I am a nerd, here’s one of the two attestations from Piers Plowman that the OED uses to date the term’s entry into English:

For persones and parish prestes that shulde the peple shryue, Ben curatoures called to knowe and to hele, Alle that ben her parisshiens. (Our parish priests, whose duty it is to hear the people’s confessions, are called ‘curates’ because their business is to know their parishioners, and to cure them.)[ref]Schmidt, A. V. C. Piers Plowman: A New Translation of the B-text (Oxford World’s Classics) p. 251[/ref]

As David Levi Strauss puts it, “one could say that the split within curating—between the management and control of public works (law) and the cure of souls (faith)—was there from the beginning. Curators have always been a curious mixture of bureaucrat and priest.” It’s worth adding that while parish priests were caring for their parishioners’ souls, the inhabitants of medieval monasteries and convents were doing an impressive job of creating, collecting, and keeping safe the written records of civilization. Read more ⇒