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 ⇒
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 ⇒
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 ⇒
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 ⇒
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 ⇒
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 ⇒
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 ⇒
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 ⇒
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 ⇒
In the previous post in this series, I suggested that we in web-land tend to use the phrase “content curation” to refer to two distinct activities, and then talked a bit about how we got to the current state of collective hypervigilance about the filtering/mosaic form of content curation. Read more ⇒