Friday, October 1, 2010

context and the death metaphor

It's hard to understand context in a 140 character tweet. It's also hard to understand context in a tweet stream from an event if you're not physically at the event. I'm not sure that even if I had been at Lavacon, I would have understood this tweet:
"Silence = death: If you’re silent about this (social networking), then you’re not going to be in the conversation."
Silence = Death is a little extreme to apply to being left out of the social networking conversation. As someone who lost a loved one to the AIDS epidemic back in the days when the Silence=Death campaign was talking about actual death I was taken aback by this usage.

While I gathered from the Lavacon tweet stream that the speaker used the AIDS metaphor intentionally and that his T-shirt was in fact modeled on the Act Up design, there was nothing in the tweet stream that explained why. How is the rush to social networking like the AIDS epidemic?

What conversation are we talking about here? Are we talking about the conversation inside enterprises about content strategy? Probably the worst thing that will happen to technical communications managers who stay out of the corporate conversation about content strategy and social media is that they'll lose their jobs. That's unfortunate, but it's not death from a horrifying disease.

There has to be a better way to communicate the urgency of getting technical communicators in on the conversation than trivializing an epidemic that is still killing people in Africa. There just has to be.

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