Following last week’s Intelligent Content 2011 conference, I’m now getting some time to reflect on both the big picture that I carried away as well as some trends I observed.
The idea of “Intelligent Content” is not necessarily anything new for content owners who have always seen their data as collateral with multiple streams of value. In a sense, what Scott, Joe, and Ann have created in this conference is an opportunity to get up to speed on what peers and vendors are doing to enhance the reuse and/or value of content, whatever its form may be.
That would be an unfortunate take-away! DITA and XML figure prominently only because they are very handy technologies for a fully standards-based approach to making content more intelligent. Docbook and even OOXML could leverage many of the same benefits. In fact, we saw that even Word-to-eBook workflows have an incredible array of tools to help maximize the value of that medium in its particular channels. So I hope that listeners were not intimidated by hearing “XML” or “DITA” continually, but instead caught the fact that all the other high-value words in the discourse were truly what the messages were about.
Incredibly, I don’t see “metadata” on Joe’s Wordle list. While I didn’t use the term in my presentation description, I certainly talked about metadata and showed interfaces for it in my editor demo, and metadata was discussed as the key to intelligent repurposing by multiple speakers. I hope that attendees caught the fact that, regardless of what formats they are working with, integrating the use of content metadata and description into the publishing workflow was time and again the key to “getting the right content to the right person at the right time on the right device with the right scope…” (and whatever else we can add to that mantra!).
One of the key trends seen this year was discussion of the impact of smart phones as end-use publishing devices. Even on the Android platform, different levels of SDK support and physical affordances lead to having to adapt the publishing process more than most of us expect, and it is clear that the problem is not going to get any easier as Pad Madness plays out this coming year.
The same can be said of eBook readers and the relative lack of commonness in content markup, presentation, and behaviors available in the readers. Dare I relate this dysfunction to the “browser wars” of early Web experience? I wonder whether things will settle down once eBook readers finally evolve into full-featured browsers so that they are competing more on the quality of available content than on how it is rendered. I’ll be watching for more rifts in this landscape next year!