The Yin and Yang of Technical Communication

If you’re a regular here, you may have noticed that I’m using a different blog title these days: “Technical and Professional Communication,” with the simpler tagline, “Peg Mulligan Consulting.” Gone is the “Content for a Convergent World: Content Strategy, Development, and Management” handle and logo. My, that was a bit wordy, wasn’t it?

I originally chose the Convergent World title, after I had read a remark by Hillel Cooperman, who formerly directed the Windows user interface team at Microsoft, and is the more recent founder of Jackson Fish Market.

In “Is It Content? Software? Let’s Call It Branded Experience,” Vince Giorgi reports that Hillel has proposed that “software and content are becoming so intertwined, there’s no longer much point in drawing any distinction.” At the time, I was simultaneously reading about “Convergence Technical Communication” over at the Content Wrangler, and I had an “a-ha” moment, deciding to make “software-content convergence,” or in broader terms,  technology-communications convergence, as a main focus at this blog.

I stand behind my original intent, but in hindsight, I realize that either/or attitude is a trap.

The answer (for me and in this blog) is yin and yang–both product-centric and customer-centric. This holistic view was what I was trying to originally express through the Hillel Cooperman reference.

Importantly, my blog’s revised title also places less emphasis on thinking, and more on communication.

So adieu Convergent World as a logo, but not as a complementary process to divergent thinking—and as an essential part of fluid networks–and the overarching mindset–known to foster innovation and change.

About This Blog: Copyright Information

Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog

Content for a Convergent World: Information, Interactions, and Experiences

When I first started blogging, I thought a lot about how I would explore content here, especially in About This Blog. At the time, my main inspiration came from Hillel Cooperman, who formerly directed the Windows user interface team at Microsoft, and is the more recent founder of Jackson Fish Market. In a speech, Cooperman proposed that “software and content are becoming so intertwined, there’s no longer much point in drawing any distinction.”

The Convergence of Content and Software

Back in March ’09, my main objective was to explore this “content-software convergence,” which in addition to a Content Wrangler post on “Convergence Technical Communication,” inspired the blog’s name.

Content as Information, Interactions, and Experiences

Sometime last winter, the tag-line for this blog became content strategy, development, and management, mainly to accommodate the topics that seemed most relevant to my immediate professional development, as well as the kinds of cross-disciplinary resources I was encountering mostly online. Previous to that, this blog was actually called, “Content for a Convergent World: Information, Interactions, and Experiences.”

Content as Branded Experience

The earlier tag-line was drawn from Vince Giorgi’s post, “Is It Content? Software? Let’s Call It a Branded Experience,” which describes content this way:

“Value-adding information, interactions, and experiences by which brands engage and build affinity with the audiences vital to their business success.”

Right now, there seems to be some debate in the blogosphere, about the nature of content, and how we use content to build relationships with our customers. Is content more in the questions we ask? or the information we synthesize? Is it better to be original or comprehensive? Is the nature of our relationships better served by inbound versus outbound frameworks?

Convergent Thinking in a Divergent World

In school, I was one of those people on standardized tests, who always looked for C, whenever I was presented with A or B.

To me, Giorgi’s view of content as “information, interactions, and experiences” encompasses all of it, and that’s why I can embrace, at least in this stage of my development, such convergent thinking, in a seemingly divergent world (or is it vice verca)?  (see Chris Brogan’s thoughts on cognitive resonance and dissonance, over at Open Forum, for more on convergent versus divergent thinking.)

Design Now a Part of Marketing

So far, I’ve focused mainly on the information part of Giorgi’s view of content. As I evolve as a blogger and continue with content as a theme, I’d like to explore more and better practice, the interactions and experiences part of Giorgi’s content equation.

Longterm, I’d also like to wind back to my original intent, exploring what Cooperman observed, as the interwining of content with software. I hadn’t thought much about that lately, until a recent post by Seth Godin, on the business of software. There, Godin notes:

At its heart, you need to imagine (and then execute) a business that just happens to involve a piece of software, because it’s become clear that software alone isn’t the point. There isn’t a supply issue–it’s about demand. The business of software is now marketing (which includes design).

So, what’s content to you?

Do you agree with Cooperman’s perspective that a lot of our prior distinctions (and to me, by implication, our way of working) are disappearing, in the intertwining of content with software? or Godin’s assertion that the “the business of software is now marketing (which includes design)?” How do you harness convergent versus divergent thinking in your own problem-solving? or within your organization?

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About This Blog: Copyright Information

Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog