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What Is Content?

(July 05, 2006)   We got an interesting note from a very smart friend. In the letter, he noticed that people make corrections to material published on the web without always making the kind of note/apology that newspapers sometimes do when they make a mistake. Here's the bulk of our response:

It takes practice to develop a pointed wit. It's easy to stray too far into the personal arena. He  is just learning his voice.

In blogging, and online in general, you don't have to pretend that you always get it right the first time.

Content is much more like software than it is like a book. Precision (and the associated apologies) were more important when the medium was permanent. Now, the final record is simply the last time it was changed.

Version histories (like you might see in the front page of a paper corporate manual or a military tech manual) are only necessary in procedural settings.

Online, the reality that things are constantly changing (and often improving) is the baseline assumption. In print, it's the opposite.

Geezers like us tend to see a decline in civility where younger folks experience a breezier path.

Online content really is different and we're all just learning the ropes. Much of what works and doesn't is being figured out by people who haven't had to make a transition between an old and a new media form. (Kids these days) When you approach the new media without preconception you see a vastly different reality.

Online networking is also like that. From an "old-fashioned" perspective, online social tools seem to contain a lot of fluff and little real substance. It's the same sort of principle.

In the sort of networking that makes online communication possible, messages are broken down into very small packets that are sent to an address and reassembled.  We imagine an envelope with three alphabetic characters inside. The envelope has an address, an appendage that looks like a hand and a mouth. It's a Gary Larsonesque image.

Anyhow, this package travels from its origin to the address on the package. Along the way, it shakes hands and asks/answers the same question over and over again. "Are you okay? I'm okay" This is the foundation of internet communications.

IM, email, social Networks and many blogs reflect this communications style in which the ratio of overhead to substance is very high (lots of overhead, little substance). This guarantees that the communications channel is open and available in case it is needed.

Younger users who are used to communicating on multiple simultaneous channels are comfortable with this ratio because it's what allows their multi-tasking. Non-multitasking users who are transitioning form older media tend to see it as a waste of time. The game will go to the non-transitioning perspective.

This notion, which may seem like an awfully long stretch from Recruiting, is critical as we learn to develop the next generation toolset.

We keep updating the blogroll. There are now 148 Recruiting related blogs.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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