When I was a pup electrical engineer right out of college, one of my first assignments was to write a new circuit specification. Having never seen such a document before, I asked my boss for an example.
“Make it look like this,” he said, dropping a one-hundred page tome unceremoniously onto the conference table.
My eyes widened. “You want me to write THAT?”
He smiled and said, “Don’t worry. Most of it is boilerplate.”
I remember thinking. Boilerplate? What in the world is boilerplate? Images of the greasy, quarter-inch steel sheets that I used to cut while working in a machine shop flashed in my head. Boilerplate?
And that’s when I learned that boilerplate was the term for all the generic stuff that nobody reads — McInformation, if you will. In today’s cut-and-paste society, a lot of people have elevated boilerplate to an artform.
COMPANY NAME, a world leader in SOMETHING THAT CAN’T BE DISPUTED, who makes seamlessly integrated, value-added, NAME OF PRODUCT FAMILY here, has just released SOME WIZZ-BANG PRODUCT. ADD FAKE QUOTE FROM EXECUTIVE HERE. If you have any questions, contact NAME HERE.
But here’s the deal. With the ability for anyone with Internet access to create and distribute content around the world for a negligible cost, a problem is arising — one that can be summed up in two trends:
- The amount of information available to me is exploding
- The are still only 24 hours in my a day.
And so I’m always looking for ways to use technology to help me cut through the clutter. For example, I use RSS to help me gather, sort, and consume vast amounts of information in a small amount of time. But RSS can’t fix one thing…it can’t remove boilerplate. Today, that responsibility is left for me — the content consumer — to slog through boilerplate while asking myself “Where’s the beef?”
New Media communication is about the content. It’s about transparancy, connecting with your audience, and giving them something that they can use. None of which includes boilerplate.
Content producers of the world, unite! Let’s eradicate boilerplate! Are you with me?