Identify, structure, and package crucial information

Problem statement

  1. Functional illiteracy is increasing and over the next decades, the divide between the literate and a majority of illiterates will broaden even further. Those who are able to read and write -- long form that is -- will be the minority. A good command of at least one language is the foundation of structured and methodical thinking. Lacking the former, the latter becomes impossible.
  2. Lack of focus. Many people don't have the capacity, the time, nor the confidence to discriminate between crucial, important, unimportant, or even non-information.
  3. The need for specialized knowledge across domains. Some knowledge domains become highly specialized expert territory and yet are expected to inform standard skills, e.g. proper standard operating procedures for proper data management and security.

Hence...

A growing necessity to structure data, information, and knowledge, to visualize connections and context, and to package the results for an audience in environments of over-stimulation and ever-decreasing attention spans. Techniques and processes to ensure and maintain broad, functional communication across circumstantial or conceptual barriers have to be identified. Message content has to be "sufficiently clear" or "simple enough" to convey a minimum of meaning for basic and urgent functions.

Information, language, and message design needs to focus on effective communication. Message and hence medium, need to match the audience. Disciplines such as psychology, behavioral economics, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and history should be involved in the process.

Possible approaches

Mitigation through knowledge pre-sorting, digesting, and packaging:

  • Text-based communication
    • Simple and/or enhanced language
    • Infographics
  • Textless communication
    • Icons and pictorials
    • Charts and diagrams

Questions

  • How do we teach or distribute knowledge to an audience that is largely impervious, unable, or unwilling to learn?
  • For how many languages in parallel is it feasible to keep translations up to date?
  • How universal are graphic icons and pictorials?
  • How much is structured thinking impaired by (functional) illiteracy?
  • What can we not explain or convey with a pictogram approach?
  • Can we use accessibility principles for cross-language or no-language communication?