Include it all. Filter it afterward.

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.

Mark Baker
Mark Baker
Analecta Communications

Mark Baker provides consulting services and training in structured writing and topic-based authoring through his company, Analecta Communications, Inc. (analecta.com). He has been practicing and implementing structured writing since the SGML days, and gave his first paper on topic-based authoring at SGML 95, under the title "Component Based Information Development". His previous positions include Manager of Information Engineering Methods at Nortel and Director of Communications for SGML pioneer OmniMark Technologies. He blogs on topic-based authoring at everypageispageone.com. He is also the creator of the SPFE ("spiffy") architecture for structured authoring and publishing, which is described at SPFE.info. He tweets as @mbakeranalecta.