NO CSF CONFERENCE IN 2015, BUT…

Earlier this month we tweeted about the unlikelihood of having a CSF conference this year [1]. We can now say, definitively, there will be no CSF annual conference in 2015. You may consider this the official notice.

This may not be the sad thing it seems on the surface. The break might give CSF a chance to focus on its cooperative processes, improve its communication, assess better use of tools/technology, and so forth. There are a lot of things we’d like to do better as a community beyond just holding a conference once a year. Maybe we can make some headway on that while looking forward to 2016.

2015 OBJECTIVES

A mail list:

One thing that’s needed is a CSF mail list at the umbrella level. Each year we’ll work with organizers to collate their respective contact lists into the CSF umbrella list so past event attendees will be notified by mail about the status of future events and related activities.

The mail list could even be treated as a newsletter, sent out on a quarterly basis, and including more information about community happenings. We don’t keep a blog for temporal news and announcements, so a newsletter might serve that occasional need too. But whether it’s a newsletter having more scope or just an email list for conference details alone, we do need this channel established.

Partnering with local groups:

We’re also going to  test pilot a new initiative this year: working with local content strategy communities as partners, mutually benefitting by way of event networking, content exchange, promotions, and whatever else we may identify for the the global good of Content Strategy.

Participating local groups will effectively be autonomous extensions of CSF, and their leaders will function as regional CSF ambassadors who help shape the collaborative program over time. Strong partnering communities will likely represent candidate locations for future CSF conferences, which give those groups incentive to keep active and organized at a local level, and keep us informed of their activities.

We are currently working on some initial guidelines for collaboration in unison with our first local group partner, Content Strategy Adelaide [2]. We want collaboration to evolve organically, nothing too structured, so guidelines will be minimal and rolling as we see how the experiment plays out.

We’d like to have more input on the guidelines draft from other group leaders, whether or not you actually become a CSF partnering group, so if you, 1) represent a local content strategy group/community outside of the USA, 2) have an online space for your group (e.g., at Meetup.com, or whatever), and 3) would like to contribute to, or review, the initial partnering plans, please make yourself known and we’ll give you access to the developing draft document. You’ll need to provide a Gmail address (or one that will otherwise work for shared documents on Google Drive).

When the draft plans are done and vetted, we’ll make the information public at the CSF website and begin highlighting partner groups there too.

2016 AND BEYOND

Louis Rosenfeld was interviewed recently and offers some interesting thoughts about communities and the practical lifespan and value of repeating events [3]. He speaks in context of the IA Institute and it’s annual event, the IA Summit (going on its seventeenth year), but one of his points is that producers of annual events should probably identify a graceful time (in relation to changing industry trends) to discontinue them rather than try and keep morphing them into something new.

When “CS Forum” happened in Paris in 2010, the field of Content Strategy — largely seen as ‘Web Content Strategy’ at that point — was still fairly enigmatic. In five years (more than six, really, if you include planning leading up to the Paris event) things have changed tremendously. The scope of content strategy is now talked about with respect to every working function of an organization, and recognized by people in every digital field, even entering the consciousness of management, though still mostly in the United States.

Past CSF events have tried to keep pace with this expansion by offering different programs with multiple topic tracks, even raising the bar substantially in terms of production quality (compared to the first event in Paris). But other content strategy events take place too with a lot more funding and success with sales, and there’s a limit to how high the production bar can realistically be raised before things start looking overblown. At the same time, many content events are narrowing scope. Some focus on a sub-discipline, like “intelligent” content, while others pick a genre, like “higher education.” All things considered, CSF may not be able to compete with that, not without a generous benefactor behind each event.

But we’re not there yet. CSF’s cooperative model and traveling nature still makes CSF conferences an interesting choice for hopeful speakers and attendees of content strategy events. CSF isn’t just Europe anymore (not since Cape Town), it’s international (with the exception of one saturated country). We strive to have events held in different locations where content strategy isn’t mainstream, and locals are able to participate. And because it’s not in the same country every time, or produced by the same host, each one is different inside and out; a unique cultural experience as much as anything else, good times for visitors as much as locals. CSF conferences can help promote content strategy internationally like no other event can — by bringing the show to town.

If our 2015 objectives didn’t lift your spirits, you might be happier knowing we have three organizer bids for 2016 from three different regions of the world. And there’s still lots of time for more bids to come in [4].

Thanks for your attention. We’d love to have your thoughts on any of it.

– CSF Crew

LOS LINKOS

[1] twitter.com/cs_forum/status/552573687996903424
[2] meetup.com/Content-Strategy-Adelaide
[3] iasummit.org/blog/interview-with-lou-rosenfeld
[4] csforum.eu/conference/organise-a-csf-event
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