Monday, October 8, 2012

Rethinking Content From Paper to Tablets, Mobile Screens and ePubs

Adobe's Maxwell Hoffmann began by going through a bit of writing and content history, noting that early writing forms were on tablets. And in a way, we've come full circle. But the question is, will the information on modern-day tablets last 3000 years like that engraved on cuneiform tablets now in museums.

We don't always catch on to how things have changed. Mobile phones have surpassed landlines. Yet, for example, political phone polls call only landlines. What are they missing? Who are they missing?

Any time you can get something cheaper, quicker, faster, they will ditch quality in a heartbeat.

A re imagining of computing devices. "Then," we had desktops and notebooks. "Now," we have tablets and smartphones.  Tablets are terrific devices for delivery, but don't think they will take over for content creation, at least for now.

There's a concept of "leapfrogging." Areas of the world that have no electricity, no cable or Internet connectivity, yet they have cell phones and smart phones. They will order from Amazon on their smartphone and then go home to their kerosene-lit room.

The landscape has changed for content creators. Readers have less time and have shorter attention spans. They expect the latest and greatest version of your content, and they want it ASAP. There are fewer writers and artists. We have less time from shorter delivery schedules--and the workload is 2-3 times more than just a few years ago. There's an increased pressure to serve a global audience. We have "fat" legacy content and less space for it.

How did we as technical communicators become a "page-based" lens for content? Page size or laptop/computer screens have long been the :lens" through which we visualized delivered content. And we write words to fill up those spaces.

How do you write content that's small enough for small screens? Use alternate templates that simulate screen and font sizes.

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