Creating Information 4.0: How to Design What Nobody Knows Yet


Ray Gallon
President and co-founder, The Transformation Society, President of the Information 4.0 Consortium


Online Courses

Creating Information 4.0: How to Design What Nobody Knows Yet

5 September-10 October (Wednesdays) | 11:30 AM-12:30 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Note: 5 September and 26 September will be asynchronous session weeks. There will not be a live session for these two weeks.

The world of technical communication is quietly but insistently being turned upside down by a tsunami of new technologies that TC’s will have to cope with. The term Industry 4.0 was coined by the German government to refer to the industrial use of connected objects (Internet of Things) governed by artificial intelligence, and the term is now being used outside the industrial context, as well. Even more appropriate is to refer to it as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In this revolution, the product of autonomous objects and deep learning algorithms, information is key, not only to understanding how things work, but to actually making them work. But the technologists developing it can’t do it alone – or even at all. This course leads you through these new developments, and the role information needs to play in it. It introduces some new concepts that will affect how TC’s produce, validate, and deliver information, and some questions about roles and responsibilities that arise from these changes.

You’ll work hands-on to master techniques for dealing with the unknown, in a changing world that is quickly becoming the new reality for many TC’s. The sessions are highly interactive, and we discuss and debate both theory and practice as we move through the exercises. This course is intended to prepare you to face, with confidence, a future we cannot yet predict with certainty. It is designed to stimulate as it builds skills, and will most likely open new avenues for exploration in the process.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand and explore information in the context of industry 4.0, based on real examples.
  • Confront the implications of autonomous machines, communicating in codes humans can’t read.
  • Develop the arguments for information design as part of product design in Industry 4.0.
  • Recognize the difference between information offering and delivery, and learn how to prepare information to be offered.
  • Master the concept of molecular information.
  • Learn the principles of fine-grained contextualization and apply them to real-world situations.
  • Understand how to build a content strategy for volatile contexts.
  • Distinguish two kinds of “validity” for information: ephemeral validity for volatile contexts, and persistent validation for durable contexts.
  • Learn to write for robots.
  • Confront the issues of ethics, accountability, and responsibility in a hybrid informational ecosystem.

Intended Audience

  • Technical communicators at any level who want to prepare for the near future.
  • Anyone interested in developing a business case to show added value of technical information.

Session Descriptions

  • Why information is crucial to the development of Industry 4.0
  • Hybrid interactions: machine-human, human-machine
  • Information 4.0 as an emerging concept
  • The characteristics of Information 4.0
  • Information “molecules” – not topics, and key to Information 4.0
  • Impact of molecularity and micro modular design on access and delivery
  • The notion of self sufficiency
  • Molecular information as a pre-requisite for volatile contextualisation
  • The notion of compounds
  • Contextualization doesn’t mean traditional contextual help
  • Understand contextualisation and how contexts evolve with various parameters.
  • Fine-grained contextualisation and personalisation
  • Instant, ephemeral personas defined by context
  • How do we describe/define/tag context in and around content?
  • What is a volatile context, and why is it important?
  • How do we validate information that changes constantly?
  • What about regulated industries, information about health and safety?
  • Defining volatile vs. persistent (i.e. long-term and “validated”) information
  • Where can chatbots have real impact?
  • Commercial/marketing bots vs onboarding bots
  • What voice (or voices) should a bot have? How should it address users?
  • Eventual role of facial recognition or other recognition of emotional states
  • Understanding what deep learning can and cannot do
  • Why we don’t want AI to be like us
  • Responsibility vs. Accountability – who has what in Information 4.0?
  • Questions/problems posed by autonomous machines (e.g. archiving, accountability, getting machine decisions into human readable form, etc.)
  • Ethics
  • The Technical Communicator as designer/curator/facilitator – not the source of knowledge


Ray Gallon is co-founder of The Transformation Society, a company that helps organizations face complex issues of technological change. He also serves as president of the Information 4.0 Consortium. He has over 40 years as a communicator, first as an award-winning radio producer and journalist, then in the technical content industries. He has used his broad experience with companies such as IBM, General Electric Health Care, Alcatel, 3M, and the OECD. He is a former director of STC, former president of STC France, and a member of the OASIS technical committee on Augmented Reality in Information Products (ARIP). Ray also serves as co-chair (with Neus Lorenzo) of the Primary and Pre-primary research and development community of the Association of Teacher Educators in Europe (ATEE). Ray is a speaker at conferences and events throughout the world, and is the editor of the recently published The Language of Technical Communication (XML Press).

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