Giving the subject matter expert a voice

I just completed a three mile run with the voice of Joan Benoit Samuelson in my ear through the techonlogy offered by iTunes and iPod and Nike’s iTunes store.

Joan Benoit Samuelson is a famous US female marathon runner, and winner of the first women’s Olympic marathon. She is most certainly a subject matter expert for female long distance runners. She gives relevant tips during certain sections of the 30 minute mix of music and voiceover tips from Joan, from how to find a pace to relaxing your shoulders and finally discussing how to vary your foot stride depending on the terrain, flat or hilly.

I couldn’t help but think of how this is an excellent example of how to incorporate subject matter expertise in new ways – it’s sort of a podcast mixed in with a mix of excellent music. Now I’m wondering how screencasts could incorporate subject matter experts voice-overs, or perhaps ways of having a “famous” subject matter expert be involved in your wiki through article contributions or just commenting every once in a while. And a podcast mixed in with a screencast offering might be a neat experiment.

Tom Parish just pointed his Twitter followers to a great blog post about Nike’s community strategy and how well it’s working. I’m a complete believer in what they’re doing. Plus, I think this example also shows that some of this community building only can happen with experimentation. Nike basically allows the community to use the platform as they wish. For example, one of the unexpected things that happened is that runners found each other for runs in real life, and quickly. Plus, the online communities that are popular are the ones where people challenge each other, such as College X vs. College Y.

Community as an added value for the technology. Neat.

I just had to share how helpful it can be to have a true “famous” recognized expert insert or splice their contributions into regular content. As technical communicators, perhaps we can enable or design that sort of voice or community into our deliverables.

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