Information organization for the Post-Modem audience
by Elaine Winters
You could make a case for saying that the way we organize and present
information has a fair amount to do with how and what we are thinking about
the physical universe, generally.
As an example: when we understood the world to be organized in accord
with Newtonian physics, we only presented information linearly. Our communication
theory was: sender> message> channel> receiver.
Brains were considered not much more than storage facilities, with some
capacity for reorganization - - soft tissue hard drives
Now, communication theory seems to think more about a mutually created
event that is circular, or a mobius strip, rather than something in a linear
series. Constant interactivity is almost a routine aspect of nearly every
We acknowledge that something dynamic goes on between presenter and
Physics has evolved new ideas, and our ideas about information organization
are different. Information is now more frequently thought of as a
Presentation, has become a mutual event. Passivity is out.
As options for presenting information, explode with new technologies,
it is becoming practical to consider organizing the information, and then
adapt, based on the decision about in which media to make it available.
Top eight list for success in information organization:
* 1) Audience identification is only one task in this information presentation
process, and it is necessary in any communicative profession .
Consideration of the changing nature of an audience is more important
than ever. The information must be flexible, because we recognize that
it will change the audience as the presentation is happening.
* 2) Develop an organizing vehicle for the information you want to gather.
Some people use index cards, or hypercard; I use a spreadsheet with
my own, unique, column headers. There's a good variety of project management
software that can be obtained. Pick something that works for you; be prepared
to adapt, and adopt new vehicles.
* 3) Determine the possible variables in the audience, and understand
how they impact what you're trying to do. . Get help, if you think you'll
need it, as early as possible in the process.
* 4) Know the technological sophistication of the evironment with regard
to what, and for whom, you're organizing this information. If the answer
to this is a huge curve, then think about stages as part of the organizing
* 5) Find, and study, examples of information organizing plans that
your potential audience might be exposed to on a regular basis. (EG: How
fares are paid on public transit? Where and how are the instructions presented?)
* 6) Find a comparable example of the local standard of the information
you're organizing. You can count on expectations to be contraditions. (The
preparation standard for the delivery of information for a newspaper advertisement
in one part of the world, as a sample, may be very different from other
parts of the world, and from what you have in mind.)
* 7) How are traditions presented? How does your audience learn traditional
stories and values routinely?
This is particularly important when working in a culture you're not
terribly familiar with; it could be a significant clue to the organizing
principle of the audience. Again, if the answer to this is a significant
curve, think in stages as part of the organizing schema.
* 8) Know what you want to say; the organizational objectives should
be clear, appropriate, and adaptable.
Schema need to reflect not only the facts and figures but the organizing
habits of the audience.
All the technological bells and whistles - new and exotic software
- et alia will not compensate for poorly organized material that is culturally
© 1997, Elaine Winters. All rights
reserved; permission to duplicate by any means is granted only in writing.
To contact Ms. Winters, visit her Web site at http://www.bena.com/ewinters or send
her an email.
About the author: Elaine Winters (email@example.com),
is a work in progress and still under construction. She has lived and worked
in Asia, the South Pacific, and North America. This is her second article
for the IICS website; the first appeared in February, 1997 and is available
in the Library.
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