There is no End User

That is the revelation that hit me a couple of days ago. There is no End User in Information Flow (which is a term I am using a lot these days, along with “Bottom-Up Knowledge Management”). It took a 1997 presentation to tell me this.

In the article I’m currently writing for Digital Web Magazine, I mention that in the mid-90’s websites were designed for “viewers”, or an “audience” – which is broadcasting terminology. However since the turn of the century, it’s been all about Users Users Users. We’re supposed to design websites for “customers” or people who will “use” them.

Nowadays, weblogs and wikis are all about reading and writing. It’s a constant flow and information doesn’t have a destination. There is no End User.

When we write and publish, we may well be targeting a group of people who will use our content in a specific way. That’s certainly still true of most corporate websites and intranets. Maybe some weblogs too. But weblogs are also perhaps showing the way it will be in the future. With weblogs, our readers don’t just “use” information – they re-mix it, add to it, edit it, comment on it, dis it, transform it, link it, pass it on, etc. The word “use” doesn’t really do justice to all these activities. Don’t you think? I’d be interested in your feedback.

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