On Writers, Editors, and Technology

Over the past few months I’ve received a few comments from CONTENTIOUS readers that basically say, “I love your content, Amy – but this RSS stuff is a bit too technical for me.”

I can sympathize with this to some extent. I’m primarily a “word geek” by nature too, not a technology geek. I’m not a programmer, and learning new software is never on my list of favorite things to do.

But there’s a very good reason why I’ve been presenting so much “technical” material…

For any kind of communication that goes beyond pen and paper or face-to-face speech, you simply cannot ignore the technology. If you try, you will miss a lot of opportunities – both in your projects, and in your career options.

I’m serious. Content professionals today who don’t know at least the basics of RSS feeds, content management systems, e-learning, blogging tools, and other technology-related communication topics will find themselves edged out of this market. Things move fast in this field.

To put it in terms of traditional media, could you imagine anyone succeeding in TV who didn’t at least know what a character generator is and what kind of content works in that medium? Could you imagine anyone working at a newspaper who didn’t understand what wire service copy is, and how it can and cannot be used?

Of course, I’m assuming that most CONTENTIOUS readers are to some extent interested or involved in online media. This may involve Web sites, weblogs, e-mail publishing, RSS feeds, streaming audio/video, intranets, e-learning, etc. Each of these unique media channels features its own quirks, advantages, and pitfalls that shape the content it conveys. If you don’t grasp these idiosyncrasies, your content might end up somewhat “misshapen” for the vehicle that transports it to your audience.

Yes, Marshall MacLuhan’s signature line, “The medium is the message,” still holds true in the online world of the 21st century.

Online media is based on technology. If you want your message to get through, it helps to understand at least the bare basics of how your chosen medium functions. That requires continuous effort to explore the realm of geekdom, which probably isn’t fun for many writers and editors. I realize that. I’m sorry about that. I’m trying to make that part easier for you here, to show you how technology is relevant to people who are first and foremost communicators of one stripe or another.

I do still offer plenty of articles focused on straightforward issues of writing and editing, such as this one from earlier today. But yes, CONTENTIOUS will continue to cover the overlap of technology and communications. The emphasis will always be on communications, but if I ignored or downplayed the technology I’d be doing my readers and colleagues a great disservice.

Thanks for bearing with me on that.

One thought on “On Writers, Editors, and Technology

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  1. You’ve said what has to be said.
    Tho I wonder, how many are carried along by the momentum of change, and thus end up learning new technology without having first determined to pursue it?
    And would you agree that most who are left behind are those who are resistant to change? or those who wrongly perceive their job/career to be insulated from the industry/workforce changes created by new technology?