A year ago I wrote an article reflecting on where I’d been in my first year of consulting. A year later, my consulting has gone in a direction I’d never have expected. That, I believe, is a good thing. But first, a little recap.
As I wound down the major project I had last year and began to search for new ones, two things kept staring me in the face. The first: I had a really hard time explaining to people what I do. Part of that reflected itself on my Refined Story website, the story of which I was constantly refining, but kept taking in different directions. Was I a content strategist? Was I writer? Was I doing UX? Building WordPress sites? The second: for people who understood what I wanted to be doing—the content strategy part—not everyone could define what that means (and still can’t). In addition, it’s becoming ever more clear that as a career content strategist, your options are limited both in job availability (unless you work for Facebook—I tried) and in growth opportunity.
I toyed with looking into artificial intelligence—stuff like making content for chatbots— and the burgeoning virtual reality scene in my beloved city of Seattle. I checked out a couple of VR meetups and found more excitement about the technology than the content that makes it interesting. That just didn’t float my boat. Virtual reality, I figured, just didn’t do it for me.
We met in the spring at a mutual friend’s for dinner. He was new to town, trying to figure out his place in the scheme of things, and we hit it off. He liked my history as a journalist and user experience architect. I liked his vision to rethink education—in, of all things, virtual reality.
We met for coffee. We met for more coffee. And in bars. And in libraries. And, finally, at our own coworking desks in the University of Washington’s CoMotion Labs, where we spent the better part of the summer and early fall pinning down exactly what we wanted to be doing.
Looks like we’ve figured it out.
We’re calling ourselves RealityNext. We’re now on the road to build out the proof of concept and test our assumptions that teens really will enjoy creating their own content and games to share in VR.
And as for the Refined Story? I’ll take on clients as they need me—I did enjoy being able to help small organizations with their web and content needs—but my attentions are rightly looking forward, to innovating not for the sake of innovation but for the sake of helping others learn. It’s a mission that to me makes a difference.