October 30, 2006
by: jovial_cynic
The "importance" of a piece of communication is never, and has never, been determined by writer. It has always been determined by the reader.

I introduced that concept to a handful of executives at my work recently. For the last month, I've been pitching a web-application which I wrote to our executive department, hoping to change the communications philosophy that the corporation has used for the last 80 years. My proposal: instead of pushing e-mail and static web pages to intended audiences (that's the old method), I've been advocating an entirely subscription-based system, allowing readers to subscribe to the communicators that are providing content relevant to them. Communicators would have their own message channels in which they can post messages (essentially a blog), and readers would have access to an internal aggregation system that'll allow them to pull the most recent content from their subcribed channels.

Some members of the executive team are solidly on board, expressing their understanding in this communications shift. They're already drafting up proposals for how to transition our region's 3,000+ employees into this new communications system. Others, however, are hesitant in the idea. Their fear? People might unsubscribe to their communications channel.

News flash to corporate communicators: If people unsubscribe to your communications channel, they are already deleting every e-mail message you send. If you really have that fear, that could be an indicator of the quality of your content.

Communicators should only be responsible for making messages available - not for enforcing readership. By organizing messages into logical channels that are easily discoverable, readers have the ability to get as much information as they want, without getting bogged down by irrelevant messages. Because my web application also tracks the number of subscribers to any given channel, communicators are able to get instant feedback on the relevancy of their content -- as the subscription count begins to fall, the writer can immediately conclude that his or her content isn't useful. What better way to eliminate the problem of the emperor's new clothes? This immediate feedback ensures higher quality content.

And again - it's about the readers. The readers always define the relevancy of messages that come from communicators.

Note to my fellow web-geeks:
To my five bloglines subscribers (thanks, folks!) and my other technically inclined readers, you might recognize this as the RSS/aggregation model. The difference, however, is that my web-application is both the publishing tool and the aggregation system. It's a single database-driven application, so no RSS is necessary - there's no real need for a common language if reading and writing happen in the same environment.
np category: personal


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