There’s an interesting research project underway at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, exploring how reading about characters in a story online — versus in print — may make us less able to empathize with them. The study takes into account what we’ve learned in the last few decades about the differences in how people consume content on the page and onscreen. Chief among them, as a recent Columbia Journalism Review article about the study points out: In the online space, “you have to figure out how to navigate a more dynamic landscape of information.”
Those of you who have a hand in creating content for that digital landscape — either to market your face-to-face events or to create education around them — would find the article’s insights about how we learn online fascinating. For example, research has shown that people who spend a fair amount of time zipping around the Internet “are worse at filtering out irrelevant information and avoiding distraction” and pay less attention to detail. Adding to the toll traversing the Internet takes on us mentally is how we are constantly having to adjust to different website designs, making it more difficult to focus.
It’s clear the online space presents many challenges for users — and creators — of content, which I found particularly applicable at this point in time. As I write this, the beta/staging site for our brand-new Convene website, launching on Aug. 5, has just been made live. Led by Senior Editor and Director of Online Content Barbara Palmer and Web Editor Kate Mulcrone, we’ll be working on the backend of the site in order to bring you a compelling experience on the front end. As a baker, I think of us as being in the kitchen, mashing our hands in the dough — so that when we open our doors next month, our display case will look enticing, it will be easy for you to choose what you want from our variety of goods, and you’ll enjoy every bite.
It’s not like we haven’t shared our content online before. We have, for more than a decade now, in some shape or form on pcma.org. But our new site, pcmaconvene.org, gives us a broader landscape — relying more on images and multimedia, and perhaps less on words — in which to tell our stories. All of us on the team have been brushing up on the skills that publishing an engaging website requires, including taking online courses (my first homework assignments in nearly 35 years!), learning from each other, figuring things out on our own, and, of course, spending time visiting other sites to see what works best.
Bringing you this whole new way to experience our content is both exciting and daunting. You’ve come to expect a more thoughtful approach to the meetings industry in the pages of Convene, and we’re making sure you’ll get nothing less from us online. See you at pcmaconvene.org next month, and often thereafter.