People have questions. Sometimes they find answers. More often than not they construct answers from what they find. More frequently still they construct provisional answers and muddle along. This has always been the case. But as with so many things, what we have always done is being thrown into a new digital light as we grapple with a landscape filled with new technologies and novel techniques. One thing we can say with confidence is that, relative to the past, we have managed to stir up even more questions and simultaneously we have made it more difficult to find or construct... Read more →

Prologue I have a bad habit of tackling unnecessarily big topics at inopportune times. After a year of near-complete silence, I will make a gesture in that direction once more. As this is a particularly bodacious topic, I suspect that I will be coming back to it several times both with revisions to this post and with follow-on posts. But in just the same way as applies whenever you are confronted with seemingly overwhelming challenges, the best way to start is to start. One of my less welcome aphorisms goes something like this: Think about something long enough and you... Read more →

What better way to emerge from a year of distractions than to tackle an impossible topic. Even if this attempt was only tangentially successful, it would feel like being a phoenix emerging from the ashes. Hence my choice for a signature graphic and hence my choice of a case study with which to illustrate, or at least gesture towards, what the content of systems might be. My choice of case study is a mega software project within the Canadian Federal Government - one appropriately called the Phoenix Pay System. It may sound a little too provincial to be instructive beyond... Read more →

Each year, I select an idea and proceed to pummel it relentlessly in a series of presentations, posts, and tweets. Last year it was the idea of Integrated Content. In 2016, it was the idea of Content 4.0. This inquiry was prompted by a number of concurrent discussions that have been exploring the relationship between the work of technical communicators and the emergent concept of Industry 4.0, also referred to at times as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). As I would, I took up the challenge and carried it further than was probably wise. Nonetheless, I am hoping there... Read more →

This will be a short detour back in time. Back to a keynote address that I gave at Lavacon 2014 in ever-enjoyable Portland Oregon. That talk then leapt further back in time with case studies drawn from across a 20 year period (25 years if we are being honest with ourselves). The purpose for this retrospective was to unearth the secrets to success in content initiatives and in particular the secrets to successes that have stood the test of time. Below is a recording of my full presentation, with both slides and arm-waving, so what I will do here is... Read more →

In the post Integrated Content Management, we dug deeply into the integrated, and integrative, nature of content. One of the things we took away from this exposition is the recognition that the real power of content lies in the fact that it can be used to build bridges between an enterprise and its customers, and between the business silos that exist within the enterprise. Content can perform this special function because it strives to be truthful and as such exists below the level of politics and spin that characterizes so many of the information exchanges that typically obstruct our efforts... Read more →

Not too long ago, in early 2015, I asked the question "Would the real Content Management please stand up?" Going back several years earlier to 2009, I had posted a meditation on The Trials and Tribulations of Content Management. Between these two bookends, I have been on something of a quest, a quest that a good many people have joined in on by contributing comments and asking questions. To all these people I owe a heartfelt thanks in no small part for their patience as I ventured this way and that trying to figure out why content is so special... Read more →

Believe it or not, there was a time when we did not talk about content. At least not in the way we do today. To some ears this will sound decidedly odd. To others it might even sound outrageous. But it is neither. I would like to suggest that the concept of content that we now associate with management and publishing has been shifting under our feet and that these changes should help us to define the term more precisely and to wield it more effectively. We can start by turning the clock back a few decades and consider how... Read more →

Preface This post attempts to define intelligent content in a new and hopefully fresh way. While still compatible with previous efforts to define intelligent content, and to describe its utility, this attempt consciously adopts new language in the hope that doing so will provide practitioners with some novel tactics for explaining the nature, purpose, and value of intelligent content. This post emerged in response to, and in conjunction with, discussions that occurred in early 2015 between Ann Rockley, Scott Abel, Charles Cooper, and Joe Gollner on the topic of how intelligent content might be repositioned so to resonate with a... Read more →

One thing that you will often hear content strategists talking about is the need to break down organizational silos. Only then will content flow from where it is created to where it is needed. It would be more than a little ironic then to discover that the world of content strategy is itself respectably well-outfitted with its own silos. Rubbing salt into the wound, we need to confess that these silos are almost perfectly cut off from each other. The community of content strategists in one silo will be largely unaware that there are other communities of content strategists working... Read more →