On Saturday October 20th 2012 I arrived in Yerevan for the ICOM CECA conference. That same afternoon I led a workshop on writing for digital media. The reception in the Matenadaran, Armenia’s state repository of ancient manuscripts, where the conference took place, was exceptionally friendly and well cared. Nevertheless there were some minor technical problems when connecting my laptop to the beautiful screen in the presentation room in the old building of the Matenadaran.
So I decided to make a PDF of the presentation and show it via de computer which was already connected to the screen. Then it appeared that the computer could not show a pdf (yet). This makes perfectly clear that we can not assume that all standards are being used throughout the world. So Adobe Acrobat was downloaded and installed. Easy for me to watch this being installed, but if this website would have been in Armenian language I would have had a difficult time understanding how to proceed and where to click.
When we talk about the use of digital media worldwide, we must acknowledge the fact that we still have to deal with different standards, budgets, infrastructure, culture and also language differences.
This appeared again at the moment we introduced ourselves to each other. We are all more or less engaged in digital media. But that may mean various things, for instance that we are making an audio tour, a game or a multitouch table, that we want to use social media, augmented reality, open data, or are involved in creating a virtual museum or an app for various smartphones. Those are separate things that each require another approach and technical knowledge. And of course all these applications also require all a different use of text. That is a very important thing to know before you start to write for digital media.
the three powers of a core text
First you create a ‘core text’ covering all major ingredients. Therein lies an inviting and visionary power, an operating and explanatory power, and the third an appealing and engaging power. A way to compose these core text, by using this mnemonic: Look! Because: And therefore …
Look! = visionary power, imagination (vision)
Because: = explanatory power, how it works (mission)
And therefore… = engaging power, what it means to you / me / us, why anyone should join (relation)
Your core text should not be longer than 3 lines maximum. After that you add a specific goal, which audience you want to reach and engage, not just for one moment, but maybe to build a relationship. Why? Because your museum could learn from the people who come to visit, who read your texts, wherever these texts may appear. Because that particular visitor may be your next ambassador, your greatest beneficent and because in every network you get more connections the more people are involved and with every connection there is a possibility for innovation, knowledge exchange, and sharing passion and pleasure.
Also think about the channel(s) and the moment you want to start each conversation.
If possible (and needed when telling a story or writing for a game, video or audio) it contains also an indication of the narrative elements: the narrator, the point of view and (its) focalization, the space (stage) with possibility of crossing borders and the duration of telling the story including the period being told. You can add these narrative elements to the core text in few, separate lines.
P E R M A
When using a Facebook page, look and listen first, read what others are writing, what they are looking for, try to understand the dynamics of the medium. Same for Twitter. And remember: social media is 24/7, so be prepared.
Focus on connections between both media and people (connectivity). Identity (concept + values) determines the course of your writing. Work process oriented and in permanent beta; use intermediates.
The 5 pilars of P.E.R.M.A. (Martin Seligman) will enhance your social media approach:
– Positieve emotions
– Meaning and purpose
Combining all these recommendations, we can conclude that in everyone of them relationships are present and they will be leading in our approach. Whatever text you might write, it must serve to strengthen relations between the museum and the visitors, partners and sponsors.
Remember to act analogue (what we are good at) and to think eccentric…