Empowering content creation and control

Marx was right – it’s key to control the means of production. Digital content production that is. Not sure if he meant that…
My last post reminded me about another Wired article (i think this is the first time in months I’ve spent an hour or two ploughing through it) on Robert Rodriguez:


A puff piece on Sin City for sure, but also an interesting story about how he’s controlling the entire shoot and avoiding the problems and intricacies of traditional film-making by shooting entirely digital. Rodriguez has controlled the writing, production, shooting and editing of all his movies, I think.
For him, controlling the tools means controlling his art.
On sort of a connected note, but by no means as cool as crime-fighting and special effects…
I spent a few hours yesterday playing with a demo of Macromedia’s Captivate and was struck by the control over the ‘story’ of content production in e-learning. Captivate is a ‘PowerPoint-like’ tool for recording screen activity, building rudimentary interactivity and questioning environments and squirting the results straight into Flash.
For a couple of years, I was an ‘instructional designer’ amongst other roles, and I designed interactive content, handed it off to a designer, who then ‘designed’ who then squirted the content into a SCORM template, which often then got customised by a developer.
What a laborious process. And basically a business model built around abstraction and an ability to control the means of production.
Now, the idea of ‘modules’ of e-learning is utterly flawed anyway, but that’s not really the point, particularly, the point is Captivate pretty much removes the need for the instructional designer, developer, designer if the actual expert can sit down and produce their own content – i.e. control their story.
Now, I personally think video content combined with blogs, and distributed in small chunks, retrievable on demand (and in the context of that demand) is the way to go – but if I needed to put together narrated systems training (Captivate was/is RoboDemo), I’d mix Captivate produced content into that mix. But forget the LMS – upload the content as part of a blog post and provide a personal voice, context and add the meta-info in there to enable easy search and retrieval.
Give the tools to the workers!