Late last year, if:book conducted a two-day workshop on creating your own ebook, part of suite of resources we call The Amplified Author. For the last two months we have been grappling with the challenges of delivering some of this content online. It’s been a fascinating practical demonstration of how content needs to fit its medium. The care and thought that we have had to put into the work has surprised even hardened futurists like me, lulled into thinking all the hard work was done when we wrote the workshop. The famous last words go like this: “the content’s all there, what more do you need to do?”
Our original intention—to record a live presentation and plonk it online—might have worked for a few web hits and to mark the event for future reference. But our goal for The Amplified Author online was to make a useful resource in its own right, something that complements the workshop, but doesn’t rely on it.
Very early in the process it became obvious that, unlike a live speech or panel session, a straight audio or video dump wasn’t going to work. So we went into the studio. Pre-recorded presentations are a very different beast to a lecture in a live room, something we immediately discovered on the sixteenth take of the first session. The work had to be much more tightly scripted, with most asides removed to create refined and streamlined content.
The result is a series of videos that fly through the information, content that is designed to be stopped and started, and replayed as many times as necessary. It also needs to be augmented with text that fills in the gaps usually provided by presenters through asides or questions, a little like magazines and newspapers do with breakout boxes.
We’re still experimenting with The Amplified Author, exploring what works and what doesn’t; something that is likely to continue for some time yet.
It’s a clear demonstration that creating great content on a variety of platforms requires careful consideration of both content and container. You might have a story that would create a wonderful interactive book for a touchscreen device, but unless you know how your audience uses those devices and what you expect them to get out of it, your work will likely come up short. Even reasonably straightforward text-based digital books suffer when created with no regard for the devices used to access them and the expectations of people reading the text.
Creating great content across platforms is anything but a cut-and-paste exercise.