Are writers and graphic designers equal in the eyes of our employers, peers, and clients?

I wonder if we treat all content creators with the same level of respect. I have a suspicion that, in general, writers get the short-end of the stick. My rationale is that since everyone who works with a writer is literate, they often think they can also actually write. Graphic designers and digital media artists also regularly encounter laypeople who think they can do it better. But, more than likely, they are afforded a certain degree of esteem in recognition of their professional expertise.

Do you agree? Is it because designers are proficient at using specialized software whereas writers can resort to stalwart but boring pens and paper? Are we digital snobs?

Do we also de-value text in favour of graphics? I find that the highest priority is always placed on the visuals, and copy can often be an after-thought. In fact, I am struggling against a trend to move work out of the hands of dedicated writers/editors to data entry workers.

If all content is not equal, what does that mean for us?

I originally made this post on The Content Wrangler Community (LinkedIn) on December 2, 2008.

The Librarian vs. The Social Tagger

Digital assets are valuable only when my users can find them. Otherwise, content is just idly eating server space. I know that the answer lies in applying the right keywords to the data. Does that entail becoming The Librarian who painstakingly, endlessly indexes our assets? Or becoming The Social Tagger who encourages all the users in the organization to add the tags that make sense to them?

I like libraries. My dad got me my first library card when I was 6. But I’d rather be a library patron than a librarian for my organization.

For starters, there’s no guarantee that my quirky colleagues will query the database as I would, potentially rendering my cataloguing system worthless. Of course, I’m not concerned about any products or services that we sell because every employee ought to be able to search by SKU, ISBN, Part Number, Model Code, etc. It’s the assets that aren’t so straightforward like lifestyle photos that sell an idea or a concept which are the hardest to pinpoint and label.

Plus, all users within and outside of my organization now seem to demand simple search tools and yet sophisticated results. They certainly don’t want to deal with filters like “begins with”, “contains”, or “equals”. I spend a fair amount of time explaining how to use these filters to normally savvy users who work in consumer electronics. It’s like they haven’t visited a library in years.

So wouldn’t it be preferable to open the floodgates and let the creators and consumers of our content generate their own tags?

I originally made this post on The Content Wrangler Community (LinkedIn) on November 14, 2998.