A Field Guide to Content Developers

If you’re trying to put together a design project, it pays to know who to hire. I often see “interpretive writer” in an RFP when it’s clear that you’re really looking for a content developer or an interpretive planner. And while it’s not unusual to find someone (like me) who can do all three, the scope of work (and the price tag) for each is radically different.

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Mayne Island

Requiem for the QR Code

The QR code is dead. It didn’t have to end this way. The year is 2011… …and I’m wandering through the galleries of my favourite local aquarium. Suddenly a gaggle of tweens rushes past me: “Over here! I found it!” They converge at an obscure spot under a counter, aim a smartphone, pause, shriek with laughter, and take off again. “This way! I think the […]

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interp panel with grammar error

Proofread Twice, Print Once

As an interpretive writer, I really enjoy reading panels and exhibits as I travel across the country for my work. Occasionally, of course, I spot something that makes the writer-editor in me really cringe. I really sympathize with writers whose errors end up in interpretive panels. It’s one thing to see your mistake online, and rush to correct it. It’s quite another to see your […]

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mute swan

The World’s Worst Interpretive Themes

Writing great interpretive themes is not rocket science. Why do we make it so hard? In the world of interpretation, we refer to messages as themes. The word ‘theme’ has different connotations and meanings. Sometimes I wish we didn’t use the term at all; it’s confusing, and this is one area that we really need to get right. Let’s see what the dictionary has to […]

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Song sparrow, singing

The Interpretive Voice

… have you found yours? Have you ever tried writing interpretive text as a committee? It’s about as delightful as being pecked apart by mergansers. Each writer contributes a piece, and each piece might be lovely on its own, but you put the bits together and they just don’t get along. And so you talk and you edit and you re-write and edit some more… until you […]

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Big Book of Disasters

The Interpretive Disaster

An interview with the editors of the Interpreter’s Big Book of Disasters I suppose every profession is prone to minor disasters. I was a waiter once; I recall tipping about a half litre of pop onto a child’s head. In another job I remember hopping out of a vehicle to grab some equipment… and forgetting to put the truck in park (I stopped it just before it […]

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Poster, Stanley Park Ecology Society AGM

Graphic Design: Promoting Active Vancouver

I have been a nature photographer for a long time. Transferring some of those skills over to graphic design is a relatively new exercise for me. I don’t think of myself as a graphic designer—in my job I have the privilege of working with some very good ones—but when you work in the non-profit world, you find yourself using all the skills you have. The organization […]

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panel with bad comma

Of Commas and Wurlies

Here’s an interpretive panel on the outskirts of Adelaide, Australia: Let’s address the obvious, first. What on EARTH is a wurly? Let’s ask Wictionary. wurly (plural wurlies) An Australian indigenous shelter made from small branches with leaves still attached. Phew, I’m glad that’s out of the way. Now, before we get all shirty about the use of jargon in interpretive panels, we should look at the possibility that this was a conscious choice. Perhaps the […]

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Proofread twice, print once…

Bit of an interpretive whoopsie at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney. I really sympathize: if you draft or design interpretive panels for a living, sooner or later you’ll send something to the print shop with a big old mistake in it. Always, always, always have somebody else proofread your work. sentence (ˈsɛnt(ə)ns) a set of words that is complete in itself, typically containing a subject and […]

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