Content convergence no image

Published on April 12th, 2011 | by Rahel Bailie


Professional Imitates Personal: Adventures in Content Integration

This weekend, I woke with a start in the middle of the night, remembering that I was supposed to respond to someone’s message. In the morning, I tried to find the message so I could respond. Not in either of my two email accounts, which I check multiple times a day. Not in gmail, either, which I generally use for bulk mail (to keep down my data rates, considering how Canadian wireless providers gouge consumers). I thought I remembered seeing the message on my smart phone – could it have been on Facebook, which sometimes send me notifications of messages? It’s not on Twitter, because that’s easy to scan. It wouldn’t have been on Plaxo, because I only use that to keep friends’ contact information updated. Which I also do on LinkedIn, but I also keep up with people who don’t have LinkedIn profiles. But it’s not there, either. Then it’s a stretch: a skype message? Text message? Blackberry Messenger? The possibilities seem endless, and I’ve just wasted an hour looking through a bunch of disjointed services before I discover it, by pure coincidence, in my log of voicemail-to-text messages.

If I had my druthers, everyone would communicate with me via my preferred method and I could stay organized, and I suppose everyone else would appreciate it if I did likewise. But we’ve learned or intuited that the best way to get responses is to use the communication channels best for the other person. For some people, it’s email. For others who never answer email, it’s text. For yet others, a phone call cuts through their clutter. The search for information has become my personal hell, and reminds me of a few years back, when the sudden increase in searching for information sent productivity plummeting. This was the period after email but before tools like Google Desktop and Xobni.

Now we have more communications and content, using more services, delivered through more channels than ever. In the corporate world, we have a similar trend. Email for personal use has slowed now that Facebook and Twitter consolidates a lot of our personal communications into posts, but the use of email is still heavy. But as fast as we can tame one body of content, another swoops in to create chaos. Today’s trend is social media. It has hit corporations hard. Every corporation, group, department, and/or project wants a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a mobile app, and possibly a FourSquare account. Now there are multiple content streams to monitor, multiple tensions to balance, and lots more content to manage. Those “where did I see that comment” moments are sure to multiply for the corporate communications manager.

The need to integrate content channels is becoming strong, if not urgent. Communicators need a way to view, sort, group, filter, and analyze content. Consolidating content, to be able to analyze topic trends and conversation sentiment, monitor organizational health, and measure communication effectiveness has always been part of a communications process. With so much transitional content popping up (the visual image is a huge game of whack-a-mole, where even two-fisted play with a big hammer can’t keep up), something needs to give. Doc Searls discussed factors in the integration of content, which are points well taken. His discussion is around the technical and industry aspects; what I’d like to see is more discussion about the corporate requirements for the curation of content and how they can be addressed.

As always, I’m interested in a discussion, and would welcome one here.

Share this post:
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.

  • StumbleUpon
  • email
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • TwitThis

About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,

2 Responses to Professional Imitates Personal: Adventures in Content Integration

  1. Carlos Abler says:

    Between all the channels and particularities of individual workflows and the interfacing with the workflows and channel preferences of others, there are probably way too many permutations for there ever to be one or even a few silver bullets to put a huge dent in this in focusing on the tools and channels themselves. At the risk of sounding reductionist, I think a lot of it comes back to individual organizational competence.

    I went to an alternative school that expected you to have “Information Seeking Skills” as one of 17 validated requirements before graduation. I look back to that idea and think of it’s simple brilliance. I think these are among the critical issues of digital literacy. Digital literacy is more than learning about what tools are, how they work and how to use them. It’s about acquiring strength in personal communication management. It’s analogous to learning how to learn.

    A recent Jakob Nielsen article talking about Google making people worse researchers. I think that’s crap. I think it’s just that the mass behavioral adoption of search technologies and our studies of these behaviors are just revealing what crappy we are at being researchers, evaluators of content quality, and executors of analytic diligence. Garbage in garbage out, it’s tool neutral.

    Now I am not saying that platform convergence, tool improvement and so on are not worthy or critical. They are. I am just steering attention to the individual competence development dimension that is what allows the individual to adopt and effectively use what ever tools are at their disposal to the maximum extent, and to play out the Darwinian cycle about what’s in and what’s out on the individual level. At this point I think we are tooled to death. We need to get strong at how we use them. Training needs to be tailored to the individual on multiple dimensions. There is a latent book in that last sentence alone.

  2. Carlos Abler says:

    Sorry about some of the sloppy writing. It’s late and I am sleep deprived. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Back to Top ↑