Sunday, October 24, 2010

Clarity 2010

Went to Clarity 2010 in Lisbon the week before last. Very stimulating, and met up with a lot of old friends. Three things stood out for me.
  • Plain language is happening in more and more countries, and is taken seriously enough for governments to take action. For example, the Portugese government used the conference to announce a new initiative, and while we there President Obama was signing the new Plain Writing Act in the USA.
  • While much discussion of plain language hasn't changed in thirty years (short sentences, common words, active voice), there were frequent mentions of information design, and several sessions looked at visualisations that clarify contract law.
  • Many of the meetings were visualised by Susanne Hoogwater of Legal Sketchpad - she is one of a growing number of people who make a living from recording meetings using visualisation. She introduced me to a new book, Visual Meetings by David Sibbet. Worth a look.  And there is an interesting link on her website to the use of visualisation in conflict negotiations: The physical mapping of different views makes it less easy to ignore what the other side is saying, and reassures participants that their view has been recorded. Not that any fights broke out among the speakers.