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Under the Influences: Context as Strategy

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Breaking content apart from design during the rise of hypermedia may have had far-reaching consequences on how people learn, remember, and reference knowledge. We are well-acquainted with our content, but to what extent did those design decisions influence how we communicate? Have we lost sight of context? Just what is context and do we need a strategy now for that, too?

In this session, we will explore a logical way of thinking about context within content strategy. We will also walk through a flexible, adaptable model for context strategy. Takeaways from this session include real-world strategies for framing your own in-house or project context.

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Under the Influences: Context as Strategy

  1. 1. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 1 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Keith Anderson @suredoc mkanderson.com
  2. 2. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 2 The Under the Influences: Context as Strategy ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 2 #stc15 @suredoc @fpcontent keith@mkanderson.com futureproofingcontent.com
  3. 3. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 3©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 3 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy About This Presentation The following presentation takes excerpts from my forthcoming book, Future-Proofing Content: How Context Can Prevent a Complex Digital Dark Age. As it is a work in progress, some information may change. If you want to cite this presentation or the book itself, please contact me before doing so as I might have more updated information. Artwork by Cecily Anderson
  4. 4. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 4©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 4 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy OUT OF CONTEXT
  5. 5. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 5©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 5 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Content Untethered Content without context is just data. Much of today’s personal and organizational content is roaming around free, disconnected from its creators, easily misunderstood and increasingly irrelevant.
  6. 6. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 6©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 6 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy The Printing Press as an Agent of Change Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe 1979 Printing gave birth to organizational, scientific, and technical documentation, and catalyzed a change in culture so great, it could be considered humanity’s first singularity. My quick summary regarding the introduction of the printing press: Elizabeth Eisenstein
  7. 7. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 7©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 7 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy How We Untethered Our Content Disruptive technologies: typewriters, hypermedia, social media The databasing of everything Social exclusion and the digital divide IT’s ownership of organizational knowledge Business’ bottom-line culture Legal as the filter for everything Hyper-consumerism Devaluation of content in general
  8. 8. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 8©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 8 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy It’s Sort of Our Fault Early single-sourcing practitioners created the concept of portable content, but forgot to hand-over the knowledge of context. We removed more than just formatting.
  9. 9. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 9©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 9 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy The words, images, and other associated media we create on behalf of our organizations. Organizational Content Our mission as professional communicators is to effectively communicate with our audiences, which is in the best interest of our organizations.
  10. 10. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 10©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 10 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Organizations are the articulation of human collaboration. We’re Better Together Our companies, governments, religious institutions, non-profits, and formal affiliations exist to do things individuals cannot.
  11. 11. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 11©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 11 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy If we are to truly support our organizations, content strategy must include all organizational content, support the long-term welfare of the organization, avoid shareholder worship, identify customers as people, and communicate effectively with our audiences. The New Content Strategy
  12. 12. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 12©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 12 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Organizational content isn’t limited to technical, marketing, training, internal, or business documentation anymore. Yet you must remain focused on your purpose as a communicator. A jack-of-all-trades and a master of communication. The New Content Strategist
  13. 13. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 13©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 13 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy CONTENT AS A JOURNEY
  14. 14. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 14©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 14 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Collaboration is Our Destiny Language evolved from humans interacting in collaboration.
  15. 15. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 15©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 15 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Language is Interactive Context transforms the static into recognizable patterns, transcending barriers like time, culture, translation, distance, and emotion, to name a few.
  16. 16. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 16©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 16 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy The Well of Lost Plots A Thursday Next Novel 2003 “Books may look like nothing more than words on a page but they are actually an infinitely complex Imagino-Transference technology that translates odd inky squiggles into pictures inside your head.” Jasper Fforde
  17. 17. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 17©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 17 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Transforming Data Data requires awareness and cognition to become information.
  18. 18. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 18©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 18 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Transforming Information Information must be processed to be understood.
  19. 19. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 19©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 19 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Understanding Understanding Understanding is the point where communication happens. Once individuals understand information, they can use it.
  20. 20. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 20©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 20 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Transforming Information Information requires socialization to become knowledge.
  21. 21. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 21©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 21 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Transforming Knowledge Knowledge requires mental and social maintenance, as well as continuous tailoring.
  22. 22. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 22©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 22 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy The Path to Wisdom Context is the fuel powering content from data to wisdom. Wisdom comes from true intimacy with knowledge.
  23. 23. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 23©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 23 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy WHAT IS CONTEXT?
  24. 24. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 24©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 24 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy We know context it when we identify it. It’s nearly impossible to provide a precise, technical definition for context because we understand it through its use rather than by identification. Context Defined
  25. 25. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 25©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 25 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Most Context Research Philosophy Mobile computing (advertising)
  26. 26. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 26©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 26 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy The collection of Influences affecting the creation and cognitive processing of content. Context Defined for Content Strategy Interactive Granular Sticky Relational Fickle Context Is
  27. 27. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 27©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 27 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Context is a Tool Context is a means to Be understood Build trust Provide clarity Prolong relevance Support assertions Context ensures the message of our content is received, understood, and invokes its purpose.
  28. 28. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 28©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 28 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy ENCAPSULATED CONTEXT
  29. 29. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 29©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 29 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy The most effective forms are based on conventions and standards shared among large groups of people over long time periods. A delivery system of content with the intent of providing as many frames of reference as possible to accommodate barriers to understanding. Encapsulated Context
  30. 30. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 30©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 30 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Since the 1450s, we have been significantly improving content distribution. The Book Tables of content Margins Headers and footers Indexes Appendixes Bibliographies Footnotes Endnotes Contextual enhancements
  31. 31. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 31©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 31 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy The Form of the Book The Importance of Tradition in Typography 1966 “The form of our letters, the older handwriting, and inscriptions, as much as the cuttings in use today, reflects a convention that has slowly solidified, an agreement hardened in many battles.” Jan Tschichold
  32. 32. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 32©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 32 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Other Forms of Encapsulated Context Books Record albums Films Television programming Museum exhibits Games
  33. 33. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 33©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 33 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy CONTEXT AS STRATEGY
  34. 34. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 34©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 34 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Regardless of the type of content we produce, words are used in content creation. This includes everything from our own inner dialog, collaborations with others, description of the content on whatever media it’s presented, and its associated metadata when stored and saved for later. Writing Matters
  35. 35. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 35©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 35 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Deliberate use of all information available about yourself, your organization, and audience to fulfill the purpose of your organization’s content. Context Strategy Profit Entertainment Education Connections Compliance Matters of Record Disclosure Purpose-driven content
  36. 36. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 36©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 36 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Personalized Context Projected Context Future Context The Big Three Contexts Applied Context Strategy
  37. 37. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 37©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 37 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Organization (Environment) Our Own Attention Lexicon Existing Trust Technology Process Ability Areas of influence on the creative side of content production Personalized Context
  38. 38. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 38©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 38 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Persuasion Common Ground Construction Gestalt Framing The influence we deliberately use to affect our audience Projected Context
  39. 39. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 39©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 39 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Encapsulation Time Relevancy Culture Strategy Technology Inevitable outside Influences Future Context
  40. 40. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 40©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 40 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Cultural Emotional Legal Geographical Environmental Physical Technical Temporal Intentional Educational Like design constraints, contextual constraints give us limits to our creations. Constraints apply to both you and your audience. Contextual Constraints
  41. 41. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 41©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 41 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy YOUR TAKEAWAYS
  42. 42. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 42©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 42 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Why Are You Creating Content? Profit Entertainment Education Connections Compliance History Take Content Seriously Why Do You Have an Audience? Product Support Information Seeking They Want Connections Discourse Communities You Are Unique Fact Checking Write and Design with Purpose.
  43. 43. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 43©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 43 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Consider the context of everything applicable to your environment, yourself, and your audience. Take Context Seriously
  44. 44. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 44©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 44 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy People are not gadgets. Stop treating them as empty vessels with bank accounts. Communicate with them. Take Your Audience Seriously
  45. 45. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 45©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 45 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Employ your knowledge of a long and amazing history of human communication. Build on that proud tradition. The more seriously you take content, the more seriously your readers will take you and your message. Take Writing Seriously
  46. 46. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 46©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 46 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy Take the time to conduct reader research. Build profiles, conduct surveys, and make sure you understand what they expect from you. Take the Work Seriously
  47. 47. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 47©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 47 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy QUESTIONS? keith@mkanderson.com @suredoc mkanderson.com
  48. 48. ©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 48©2015 Keith Anderson / mkanderson.com / @suredoc 48 Under the Influences: Context as Strategy References All images are public domain with the exception of the book cover . Please do not cite without permission as this is a work in progress. • Albers, Michael J., and Beth Mazur, eds. 2003. Content & Complexity: Information Design in Technical Communication. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. • Angwin, Julia. 2015. Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance. • Ben-Shahar, Omri. 2007. Boilerplate the Foundation of Market Contracts. New York: Cambridge University Press. • Cialdini, Robert B. 2009. Influence: Science and Practice. Pymble, NSW; New York, NY: HarperCollins ebooks. • Colbourn, Andrea Maria. 1988. The Typewriter as an Agent of Change, 1867 to 1954: A Drucker/Ellulian Analysis. New York University. • Duranti, Alessandro., and Charles Goodwin. 1992. Rethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon. Cambridge [England]; New York: Cambridge University Press. • Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. 2009. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe ; Volumes I and II. 14th printing. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. • Fforde, Jasper. 2003. The Well of Lost Plots. London: Hodder & Stoughton. • Grice, H. P. 1972. Intention and Uncertainty. London: Oxford University Press. • Hagar, Hubert A., Lillian Grissom Wilson, Elsie Lillian Hutchinson, and Clyde Insley Blanchard. 1935. The English of Business. New York: The Gregg Pub. Co. • Henle, Mary, and Rudolf Arnheim. 1976. Vision and Artifact. New York: Springer Pub. Co. • Huey, Edmund Burke. 1908. The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading. The Macmillan company. • Jackson, Maggie. 2008. Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Prometheus Books. • Jan Tschichold. 1991. The Form of the Book: Essays on the Morality of Good Design. Hartley & Marks Publishers. • Kanizsa, Gaetano. 1979. Organization in Vision: Essays on Gestalt Perception. New York: Praeger. • Langer, Arthur M., and Arthur M. Langer. 2011. Information Technology and Organizational Learning: Managing Behavioral Change Through Technology and Education. 2nd ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press. • McCloskey, Deirdre N. 1998. The Rhetoric of Economics. 2nd ed. Rhetoric of the Human Sciences. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press. • Morozov, Evgeny. 2014. To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism. New York: PublicAffairs. • Piketty, Thomas. 2014. Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. • Radin, Margaret Jane. 2012. Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law. Princeton University Press. • Ransone, R. K. 1981. Technical Snobbery Versus Clear Communicating. • Ruen, Chris. 2012. Freeloading. OR Books. • Steinberg, Sigfrid. 1961. Five Hundred Years of Printing. 2nd ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin. • Stein, Howard F. 1998. Euphemism, Spin, and the Crisis in Organizational Life. Westport, Conn: Quorum Books. • Stein, Howard F. 2001. Nothing Personal, Just Business a Guided Journey into Organizational Darkness. Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books. • Tomasello, Michael. 2008. Origins of Human Communication. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.. • Warschauer, Mark. 2003. Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

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