Old Lessons for a New Game


My latest piece for the Toronto chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators has just been posted. The piece briefly discusses the possibility of instantaneous publishing on the web without editing or any feedback process and the ramifications that this might have for brands and organizations, and perhaps also individuals, on the web.

My ultimate conclusion is that we ought not to ascribe inherent qualities to the web and its various publishing platforms as if they determine how we behave. We have to apply our own rules and ethics to technology. We created it and, therefore, we control it. Just because you can publish with one click and without soliciting feedback or going through multiple drafts does not mean that you should take this approach.

Some basic rules of good writing still apply, though the medium may be changing. Good content still requires more than one draft and content is always improved by feedback. These are simple rules, but in light of so many gaffes by so many brands, many of which make the reader wonder how such content could have possibly been allowed to go live, they’re lessons worth remembering. You can read the piece here and other pieces that I’ve written for the IABC here. Below is an excerpt:

Analysts and pundits have often pointed to the instantaneous nature of the web as the culprit in such incidents. The long process of writing a letter, sealing the envelope, applying the stamp, etc. gave one time to think about the contents of one’s message. Email and social media remove those checks, or so it is alleged.

As far as I’m concerned, this thinking is entirely wrongheaded. What we are doing, and what communicators must absolutely avoid at all costs, is ascribing intrinsic qualities to technology as if it governs our behaviour. We must understand, on the contrary, that as users and creators, we govern these technologies. Just because you can publish instantly and without a second thought does not mean at all that you should.

The rules of clear and effective communication and writing still apply, especially for brands. While some may argue that it is one of the great advantages of the web that individuals may share content so easily, those acting within a professional context ought to be a bit wearier. At the end of the day, communications professionals have the goal of bolstering both the bottom line as well as the public perception of their organization.

The new year is off to a busy start in terms of writing. In addition to this blog, I am also working on some short pieces of fiction. I have not decided if they will be published on this blog or if I will go some other route. Nonetheless, there will be lots to share on this blog in 2012.  I hope that anyone who stumbles across this corner of the web is having a wonderful 2012 thus far and I look forward to more adventures in blogging with you all very soon.

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