Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Who is that masked man?

"Who I Am" and "Why I am Here" are the first two stories communicators must tell before their message is accepted. Branders spend millions on this - and it makes sense.

Readers, before they take heed of the message, must answer in their own minds those questions demanded of the communicator. Experienced writers already understand that considerable effort can be expended in validating information and knowledge, a fair amount of which time is spent vetting the sources to establish trust in them and how to understand properly what they have to communicate.

This is even more important in the public sector, since the government context is missing. In the government sector, there is some expectation of public trust in the authority and certain points of view that stand behind what is published. But in the "Wild West" of the global Internet all bets are off.

Hence the burden of validation becomes even heavier. By updating editorial standards and guidelines as new communication channels evolve, authors have a chance to rise above the noise floor in the chaos.

Due to differences in language and logic constructs for understanding the world, human kind since the Tower of Babel has had some difficulty in communicating very well to common purpose. Yet, humans as social beings possess a basic set of concepts they understand at an instinctual, subconscious level.

But here's the problem. Understanding becomes common between members within a particular organisational context, explicit means of expression becomes redundant and not generally necessary. But, in isolation from other cultures, each culture develops its own specialized terminology, nuances of meaning, and non-verbal means to express meaning grown and contained within the culture's own information silo.

When verbal communication migrates to text-based documents, even richer vocabulary and more careful crafting of how ideas are expressed can hardly compensate for the loss of meaning defined by cultural and non-verbal context. Great writers and poets over the millennia spent their lives trying to use words to express the human condition in textual form. But this does not translate to new media. Just as Radio didn't translate to TV, offline publications do not work well simply 'dropped' on the Internet.

In a cross-cultural context, misunderstanding can occur due to the message receiver lacking this native level of tacit knowledge. This means that what we are trying to say (which of course we understand) is being rejected by the user as 'whatever-eze' - we've lost them - credibility out the window. Time's are a changing and we need to change as well. Has to happen.

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