Scanning the Content Jungle

A tweet (or any piece of social media passing in front of our eyes) is not really information until we think about it.  It's just STUFF.  And we don't think about stuff until it catches our attention.  What we really do with social media is SCAN it.

Alvin Toffler coined the term "information overload" to describe a state of too much, too fast ... a worsening condition that would seem to afflict all of us ...

Americans Consume 34 GB of Data Daily

The concern that we are somehow generating "too much information" goes back many years:

Will Social Media Get a Voice?

Speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and Interactive Voice Response apps and servers are getting increasingly sophisticated.  It's easy to imagine a "voice web" which replicates most of the functions of a text web, and perhaps reaches certain types of users, communities, conversations, and content scenarios that weren't possible before.

If you've been working with social services, healthcare or other community efforts that ideally reach out to broad audiences, you immediately become aware of the limitations of Twitter, FaceBook etc.  Many of the people who are most in need of services will never in the course of a day (or year) log in to a text-based social media platform.  What do you do to reach out to them?

Social Media, Storytelling, and Taxonomies

It might not be obvious at first glance why taxonomies are important to storytelling and social media, but the more you work with the concepts, the more critical some kind of knowledge structure seems. 

In capturing knowledge from the flow of blog posts and messages, we're imposing structure on a particular subset of the conversation.  If the microcontent flow becomes substantial, and the narratives being created are important to you, then you will  need a way to manage that stream of  material, or drown. 

Towards a Taxonomy of Caregiving

Is there a need for a "taxonomy of caregiving" ... a common language and knowledge structure that will help us collect conversations and stories, and provide access to content on home care and caregiving?

People and organizations in healthcare informatics talk a lot about taxonomies, but they tend to be focused in two areas:  medical research on the one hand, and practice- or patient-data applications for healthcare providers on the other.  People interested in social media and healthcare are typically focused on patient communities that self-organize around specific conditions, on health records accessible to patients, and on patient advocacy and participation in medical treatment.  This data tends to be condition-focused or policy-oriented.

Microcontent ... Small Stories, Big Idea

Microcontent is a big revolution happening in small but fast increments.  The idea is that when you shrink the average size of a "quantum" of communications, the speed and quantity of communications tends to increase.

#microcontent examples: 30sec commercial; 140 ch tweet; 160 character SMS; 100 word blog; 2 minute video on YouTube; 1 photo on Flickr; 1 sentence or picture or link on Facebook.

Building Storytelling into Your Routine

Bertrand Duperrin has written an interesting post on how promoting adoption of social media / collaborative behaviors in a corporation (often referred to as Enterprise 2.0) is a matter of how such behaviors are incorporated into routines ...


It also very much speaks to the "people" issues of storytelling within purposeful communities.  However much members of the community agree on a shared agenda, and the value of storytelling to that agenda, they still need to find a way to incorporate it into their daily routine.  And that's a complicated equation.

Here's a quick list of the issues that seem to affect how much you document / communicate / contribute each day to a community dialogue (let's call it storytelling in general):

Self-Documenting People / Projects / Communities

 Are you self-documenting?  

We've been talking to a lot of foundations and voluntary organizations who are doing great work, and we've been trying to support their need to document that work for a variety of critical purposes, including internal and external communications, program evaluations, and collaboration.

To what degree is it important for a community to be "self-documenting".  We (Learning Worlds Institute) as an organization, and I personally, struggle with that constantly.  If you're busy doing the work, it's hard to stop and document that work.  But in most cases it is critical to the long-term success of what you're doing (whatever it is) to document / communicate / celebrate. 

Busy People in Purposeful Communities

We keep coming back to the key question of how to encourage / help / incentivize busy people to capture stories of the work they do.  It's the people side of storycapture, and it's much more critical than it seems to many in the social media world.

Most social media programs and strategies assume that there is an existing stream of conversations that are already happening on SM platforms, and the goal is to leverage that stream in some way.  And of course that's often true.  But ... 

The question for a purposeful community is whether the right digital conversations are happening to support the shared agenda of the community.  In many cases, they are not.  

Purposeful Communities

We're becoming attached to the term "purposeful communities" to describe the target participants of storycapture: groups of people who have a common agenda and are willing to work together to achieve it.  It turns out the phrase has been used fairly extensively by a group that does leadership training in the educational community.

In "School Leadership That Works", Marzano, Waters and McNulty define a purposeful community as "one with the collective efficacy ... to use assets to accomplish outcomes that matter to all community members through agreed-upon processes.


They use a phrase: "collective efficacy" which seems very resonant.  We might talk about "collective storytelling" to describe the collaboration we imagine around capturing a community's narratives.

Stories of Service ... "I Saw a Real Cow!"

(this post is by Liz Dreyer, who's working on the healthcare.storycapture.org site.)

We've begun working the Community HealthCorps, a project of VISTA.  They have an amazing, bright and dedicated group of people who are ....to put it their own words "Focused on indirect services, HealthCorps*VISTA members work to alleviate poverty by improving the capacity of health centers to provide quality health services and programs to medically underserved people."

We met with them a few weeks ago to see if any of the corps were interested in participating in our StoryCapture project. The response was overwhelming and the questions of how to make it work within their days interesting and relevant.  I have many of the same questions for myself -- in the midst of doing what needs to be done, how do I take the moment to log, document and capture what's going on, even though I know it's a really good idea.