I’m sort of bound to a new format here for a short wee while. As a writer we get advice from everywhere and everyone, specifically if those giving the advice are in some way deemed successful. It’s also now true for Digital spaces and all manner of creative /commercial activity. I have recently found myself in the situation of offering best practise writing tips to those seeking to use the www.
So I tell them: write short paragraphs containing keywords, craft sentences that are generally succinct, stick to a few simple rules for communicating ideas in the context of SEO and SEM.
Allow people to scan your text as much as read it. Be authentic.
Resist using vernacular or making up big new words. Don’t repeat yourself or dare employ complex neologisms to convey sophisticated stickualization concepts, as that could make you sound (read) like you’re trying too hard to not sound like a gobshite, striving for cleverness is about reach and grasp.
Also get into the meat as quickly as possible, don’t wander off telling people what a great time you had at the beginning of October meeting some wonderfully talented and generous electronic literature people at a conference in Spain. How you are writing another completely different post about the ELMCIP conference in Edinburgh where you met even more inspiring folks, and some digital artists and academics who are utterly amazing.
Don’t apologise for not updating you’re website in about two months.
Engage via social media.
Above all, do try to enjoy it.
For the most part it borders on solid advice. In today’s attention economy expert tricks n tips, articles, etc, appear to be the breadcrumbs of intellectual seduction. But the ‘attention economy’ is yet another commercialization of traditional engagements, suspension of disbelief has supposedly been superseded by a desire for immersion, a craving for relevance and the pursuit of analytics ‘purity’.
I confess, I kinda believe (in) most of that stuff, but opinion is no substitute for teaching instruction nor does spouting acronyms make for pedagogical authenticity.
A.I. Actionable insights.
K.P.I. key performance indicators.
R.O.I. Return on Investment.
C.T.R. Click Through Rate.
Conversion is a term I heard more than once in various physical & digital spaces, but experts drafted into talks and seminar situations can provide less authentic contextual knowledge than locals with equivalent and often more relevant understanding and experiential issues:
Are Conversion and Coercion the ugly sisters of all potential commercial Cinderellas ?
The Start-up Support Industry is to Business as Literary Criticism is to Popular writing ?
Or maybe discuss: Digital Marketing is our New Property Bubble? Or forget about discussing anything and just make some work for yourself.. Plan and plan not to fail again despite Beckett’s unique brilliance and insight into the human condition.
For me, and perhaps only me, current issues of convergence, and here I mean specifically in a narrower non-singularity sense, i.e. my perceived convergence of empirical reasoning and emotional intelligence (or intuition), is the core challenge for contemporary creative work in digital spaces. The text generators, aggregation tools, distant reading, data visualization, all such areas will continue to improve and refine, the underlying relationship with technology is very much under the carpet.
HCI while a broad and deep field, appears basically non-pragmatic (in the Rorty sense) so much of it is deeply mechanistic in concern and outlook, and while obviously straying outside empirical frameworks and accepted ontologies infers less clarity and fundamentally harder or more complex thinking, to me post humanist writing (as Hayles or Harraway might term it) conversely necessitates the return to the subject as a creative force and the (perhaps awkward) inclusion of rubbery, vague and even non-scientific ideas about personality, feelings and inspiration.
That’s essentially what my PhD is about at some levels, and yet when material success manifests for some folks involved with digital spaces, everything gets converted to numbers and metrics, despite the prior billing.. it becomes, as I’ve twitted.. promotional rather than emotional.. while the web is an allegedly assorted amalgam of human interaction and informational diversity, so much of it has homogenised into a dreary sameness crunched into bits of buy and sell sound bites.
I’ve been friends with Jennifer Jones on Twitter, Facebook, etc for a number of years now and admire her frank, insightful, straightforward views on social media, citizen participation, the web, academia, and her PhD. She has again given me a reason to admire her courage and forthright approach to her career.. Here Jennifer explains why she has decided to quit her PhD: http://jennifermjones.net/2012/11/02/shedding-a-skin/
Epilogue update 2014. Yeah.. I got conferred... and Jennifer returned (on her own terms) to complete her PhD..
.. and we all lived happily ever after... (except the WIFI guy in the RDS.. but that's another story)