What is it?
The analysis of, and planning for, the development, delivery, and consumption of global content; in essence, globalization is the analysis that forms a global content strategy.
Why is it important?
Globalization reveals the benefits, risks, needs, and demands of content among all target consumers and influences better decision-making for global information exchange.
Why does a technical communicator need to know this?
Globalization, sometimes abbreviated as g11n, is a term traditionally grounded in economics. As we continue to reach across geographic and cultural boundaries, we need to be increasingly mindful of how other cultures affect, and are affected by, our efforts. Intended or not, cross-cultural exchange is a mutual integration into a much larger system of both mutual and conflicting ideas, beliefs, expectations, and demands. In the case of content, globalization is the study of these factors for the betterment of information exchange.
Content globalization looks at the entire lifecycle of content, from inception to destruction, with heavy consideration for multicultural needs and demands. When performing this analysis, it is best to work backwards from the consumption of content, considering the audience and its needs.
From there, similarities and differences can be drawn based on appropriateness (both cultural and legal), necessity, form, and timeliness. These form the necessary requirements that inform the strategic engineering of the entire content development process, from style to technology to methodology to even who the writers are.
While globalization is traditionally regarded as an effect to be measured and studied, the proliferation of buzzwords in the global content arena (translation, localization, and internationalization, for example) indirectly suggests that globalization is an act or process. We can certainly approach it as such, so long as we are using the analysis of the effect (whether actual within existing contexts or theoretical when considering new ones) to influence positive changes in, and outcomes from, our global content strategy.