It is no longer the writer’s job to filter and organize content for the reader. In the book world, the physics and economics of paper meant that the writer had to act as a filter, carefully selecting a small and highly organized set of information to provide to the reader. But on the web, the power to filter and organize information passes into the hands of the reader. Rather than seeking out content silos and then searching within them, readers prefer to Google the entire Web and then select and filter the results they receive. In the words of David Weinberger, their preferred strategy is, “include it all, filter afterward”.
Despite this, writers tend to approach the web as simply another publishing medium, where they will make filtered and ordered content available to readers in a form that assumes the reader is looking at their content in isolation. The reality is that most readers are encountering their content as just one item in a set of search results — they are including everything and filtering afterwards. To better serve readers who seek information this way, writers need to change from creating content that is filtered and ordered to creating content that is easy for readers to filter and order for themselves.
This session will explore this difference in user behavior and suggest some ways that writers can move toward creating content that is easier for readers to filter and order for themselves.