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Designing Content


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  • 1. Designing Content What we learned pre-Gutenberg, then promptly forgot
  • 2. By definition, a publication is an act of communication. Its principle purpose is to get across an idea.
  • 3. Historically, we’ve thought of content as fixed.
  • 4. We’ve been passive bystanders to what authors write.
  • 5. Authors had control over the content and even, sometimes, the context for where that content appeared.
  • 6. Authors could even predict where audiences would encounter the content.
  • 7. Editors would decide what audiences needed to hear; what themes were important.
  • 8. And authors would write accordingly.
  • 9. But, as we know, this has all changed.
  • 10. Professional authors and writers of all kinds are intimidated by content created by users.
  • 11. But, in fact, this is where we started. Where all content started.
  • 12. Part 1: Writing & Guttenberg, or The Beginning of Content Getting Trapped on the Page
  • 13. The ubiquity of available texts brought content to a large number of people.
  • 14. Content was paired with design elements to make a point rather than relying on the needs of a live audience.
  • 15. Content became less social, and more an individual exercise.
  • 16. What people read and what people saw became less in touch with the readers.
  • 17. We relied on editors to tell us what to read.
  • 18. Reading became less of a social act. It became an individual endeavor.
  • 19. Part 2: Oral Epic Poetry, or Really Long Stories That People Seemed to Memorize
  • 20. Before there was writing, there were only stories.
  • 21. Without recording in any form, people had to rely on patterns to remember stories.
  • 22. The poetry is a collaborative composition that takes place over many generations. (Wiki)
  • 23. The moment the reciter says the story out loud, it is a combination of composing reciting, and performing.
  • 24. Reciters create meaning through rhythm by drawing from a collection of formulas and formulaic expressions.
  • 25. While the framework of each song is the same, each adds his own style by ornamenting the story. Thus, each has a distinctive personality.
  • 26. Content, by this definition, was all about knowing ones audience and relying on frameworks to make an existing pattern one’s own.
  • 27. It was up to a select few to create the framework, and the community to write the stories.
  • 28. In this way, content started as a purely social act.
  • 29. Part 3: Now, or a Return to Important Aspects of Before
  • 30. Early web content was just a recital of what people already knew.
  • 31. It was closer to print than it was to the oral tradition.
  • 32. Even though we’ve always known how to use frameworks,
  • 33. And retell our stories,
  • 34. But what we’re seeing is a actually a return to the oral tradition.
  • 35. A return to reliance on patterns.
  • 36. And a return to content driven by what live audiences need.
  • 37. With a good framework, anyone can tell a good story.