As a co-founder of The Transformation Society, Ray focuses on complexity and technological change. He presented “Our Role and Responsibility in Information 4.0” with Andy McDonald at The LavaCon Conference in Dublin in May and will be joining us in Portland in November.
How did you become interested in Information 4.0?
I think I have always been interested in it‒even before it existed. What I mean is this flows naturally out of my interest and involvement in the future, in the meeting place between culture and technology, out of a sense of play merged with a seriousness of purpose. I’ve been this way ever since I can remember: as a small boy, in high school, and certainly in my professional life, whatever career I was following at the time.
What do content professionals need to know about Information 4.0?
At the risk of overdramatizing, they need to know it is nothing like the kind of content we’ve known until now, whether we’re doing technical communication, marketing, webs, information architecture, content strategy or whatever. Sure, we’ll still write‒though we’ll do a whole lot more curating. Sure, we’ll still have to provide structure, coherence, reliability, and all the rest. But the definition of “valid” might be true, or useful, only for half an hour. Much of the information we now treat will be handled exclusively by machines, in codes that are not readable by humans.
A lot of the work we now do will be taken over by machines, chatbots, AI engines crunching Big Data, etc. Our jobs will be less to provide answers, and more to guide people to the answers they need. People know a lot already, but they also have big gaps in their knowledge. We can’t know in advance what they know or don’t know. We have to be ready to provide an offer of information that they can choose from, so they aren’t bored wading through stuff they know, or put off by an assumption of prior knowledge they don’t have.
Complete the sentence: “You should absolutely attend this session if you …”
…are interested in having a job ten years from now.”
…care about where society is headed and information’s role in that.”
…stay up nights worrying about how our roles and responsibilities will change, and the ethical consequences.”
What do you enjoy most about your work with this topic?
I love that it is both very practical and highly theoretical at the same time. We’re dealing with multiple layers of abstraction, some of the very down-to-earth, and some of them in the stratosphere of epistemology, or philosophy. I have the feeling that something important is “at stake” in this work, and that my role in it can contribute something significant.
Is there any project you are working on now that you are particularly proud of or passionate about?
My work on Information 4.0 (see above).
Also, the development of my company, The Transformation Society, which I founded together with Dr. Neus Lorenzo. We are a for-profit company with a social profile, and we are developing some extraordinary resources related to themes like Information 4.0 and other aspects of technological change, that can give real value to leaders in business, education, government, and other agencies and organizations.
What are you looking forward to at LavaCon?
Getting people involved in our efforts on Information 4.0, getting their feedback and input to provide a rich ground for interaction and development moving forward. As part of that, I’m also looking forward to hearing others’ presentations, and networking with them. We use that term networking very casually these days, often to mean simply having a good social time. I know that LavaCon always provides a great social environment, but in line with my idea of play plus serious engagement, I take networking very seriously, and want to meet lots of new, creative people as well as reconnect with old friends.
Thank you, Ray, for taking the time to talk with us!
Want to learn more about Information 4.0? Register for The LavaCon Conference in Portland in November!