Issue 3 ran from 18 April 2012 to 7 June 2012.

Here’s What We Got

We’re constantly switching accelerations; we’re jumping between time frames. That’s what we’re asking people to do every time we make something new, some new tool or product. We’re asking them to reset their understanding of time. To accept that the sequence we’re asking them to follow is the right way to do a thing.

Issue No. 3 was loosely organized around intelligence: getting smarter about our work, learning from data, seeking more ambitious ways of documenting our ideas, and attending to ideas that matter. Our annotations for the issue collect essays and connections related to the themes of each article and form an eclectic reading list that ranges across disciplines and decades.

Confab 2012 was the second annual content strategy conference hosted by Brain Traffic in Minneapolis, and this year it sold out even earlier than last year.

I’m tempted to claim that hypertext empowers us to represent more complex conceptual topologies than older literary technologies, but I’m not completely convinced of that myself: consider the subtlety, nuance, and explosive range of interpretation embedded in your favourite poem. It’s more accurate to say that hypertext enables complex conceptual structures to be explicit—baked into the artifact, rather than emerging through reading.

It’s hard to fake being useful. You have to know what you’re doing, from your strategy all the way through your execution. But, when useful content is so important to your credibility as a source, it’s hard to justify anything less.

When we realize that ideas are, at least in part, shaped by the body and its interaction with the world, we’ve found the sweet spot for content work. We also open worlds of opportunity for creating work that can resonate, educate, and engage with audiences that we may never otherwise reach.

Online communication technology has shown the potential to shift the balance of power to a nation’s people. And we, the people who will shape the intelligent content and communication platforms of tomorrow, can play an important role in safeguarding this power.

All books live in a wider context. So do all interactive experiences. The context for an interactive experience doesn’t come from the site itself; it comes from what others are doing in the category and out of category, as well as all the information about the organization, its audience, and its objectives.

When you learn what your audience needs to know, it simplifies the problem of what content to create and when to create it.

During the last year or so, retailers have slammed headfirst into the future of customer communications. Tried-and-true tricks are not working anymore, and there’s no single, clear path forward. Luckily, trends are emerging that most businesses can learn from.

As the online editor, I sometimes feel like my job is to make something beautiful, just to hack it apart for kindling. Here’s the way I (mostly) think about it instead: any link to a fragment of LQ is a breadcrumb that can bring you back to the whole.

It’s an article of faith at Contents that we all need to get smarter, in practical and immediate ways. We need to know more about our readers. We need to better understand the systems that let them find and use the things we publish.

A Bit More About This Issue

This is our third issue. You know how they say “Three is the Magic Number?” We hope it is.

You can expect a new issue of Contents every six to eight weeks, each with a different editorial theme. At the end of each issue, we’ll publish a set of annotations that links to thematically related material elsewhere, and collects the conversation so far.

This issue was illustrated by Philadelphia based designer Yesenia Perez-Cruz. Please send correspondence to