Titles provide a window into the meaning of our thinking. Titles are normally formal constructs that we create for summarizing written narrative but titles are also used informally to make conclusions when we speak about a topic. I want to just focus on titles used in written narrative, whether the narrative or content uses print or digital media.
Titles are a double-edged sword.
On the positive side, they are constructive mechanisms that give the audience the gist of the most meaningful aspect of the information being told, the content. Their direction of expression is from the inside of the narrative to the audience. Good titles are normally associated with good writing content. Good titles provide clarity and focuses attention on the same meaning regardless of the audience.
On the negative side, they can be deconstructive mechanisms if the titles intentionally create ambiguity. Unlike any really good fiction, ambiguity allows the reader to navigate however he or she wants in regards to the meaning implied, which is desirable and expected. But if ambiguity is the intent, their direction of expression is intentionally from the outside perspective. The audience’s view uses the meaning one decides to select creating a diversity of meanings because of the ambiguity to capture the attention of the audience that one chooses to target. Ambiguous titles, often thought in literature or marketing applications, are pretty well harmless. But ambiguous titles used in internal business or government organizational contexts can unintentionally cause great confusion in some, or used intentionally to reinforce preexisting ideas of the intended targeted audience.
Titles, like the conclusions we make during conversations, are the banners or “bumper stickers” for social engagement. Titles help connect meanings and thoughts across social and organizational boundaries. But they are, in a sense, powerful instruments that should be handled with care and great intentionality.
This article appeared first on my LinkedIn page, where it was published 11 May 2017.
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