The change in content mirrors the massive shifts in the industrial, manufacturing, and technology sectors. The nature of consumerism and capitalism itself is shifting and information plays no small role. Joe Gollner has pointed out many of these substantial market shifts in some of his talks over a number of years, and given voice to the need for clear engineering practices around content. (The movement towards the practice of content engineering for intelligence is indeed where I spend my work days at [A], so naturally I found myself even more attracted to the Consortium after recognizing Joe's work inherent.)
More can be explored in the Information 4.0 Consortium blog.
The shift has been happening in the chaotic ways these things happen. Bursts of innovation from all parts of the market, and all positions in the enterprise, are responding naturally to the need to streamline, consolidate, diversify publishing processes just to keep up with the pace of change. And, so innovation has been uneven across the market, with nothing to normalize approaches to content intelligence.
Every company, vendor, government, university — all have different schemas, different approaches to exchanging content between systems (and for many, that's still copy and paste). Interoperability, if any, is usually at the level of application and presentation code, not content itself. This makes it impossible to author in one system and publish in another with any consistency. Semantic web working groups and researchers have been toiling away for well over a decade on Linked Data, RDF and RDF Schemas, Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS), and the Web Ontology Language (OWL). Yet these technologies remain, for the most part, left out of the vast majority of marketing and technical communications. It's an odd disconnect.
We do not necessarily need another standards body, or at least not soon. Solid, functioning content standards bodies exist, most notably the W3C, OASIS, and subgroups such as W3C Schema.org Community Group among others. These are very productive. Academic publishing about the semantic web is awe-inspiring. Some of the smartest people in the world are thinking about content relationships, already.
And, various conferences representing the various dimensions of content transformation, the content sciences, and the content strategy profession all exist and offer excellent forums for exchanges.
I very much appreciate the forums for content innovation happening in marketing communications, such as the upcoming Intelligent Content Conference, hosted by the Content Marketing Institute in March in Las Vegas. And also, the advances being discussed within the technical communications forums, such as Lavacon, Information Development World, Society for Technical Communciation (STC), and others. Further progress is being made within the many conversations about content's evolving patterns within the UX and web development worlds, as personified by Confab and SXSW, among others.
Each of these forums addresses the role of content within publishing systems, how that content needs to evolve for more and more discrete and machine-based publishing and consumption approaches.
Yet, there's a missing transnational discussion that focuses the nature and interaction of content and how it should look in the future across the enterprise, government, NGO, non-profit, education, and other sectors. The Information 4.0 Consortium has the opportunity to play a role here.
So, I am interested because a transnational group should exist to move the conversation around the big shift in information and content forward. The seeds have been sewn for the Information 4.0 Consortium to play a bigger role in setting the agenda for multiple stakeholders deeply invested in content and information assets. Or, it can simply host a more niche conversation among practitioners. Both are valuable. Looking forward to exploring more, and seeing which path emerges.
If you can make it to Amsterdam on March 1st and 2nd, I'll see you there at Information Energy to continue the exploration.
Cruce will speak at Information Energy March 1. Learn more about his talk "Evolving the New Content Order: The Rapidly Changing Multi-Channel, Multi-Modal Content Landscape."
Founder and principal at [A] and author of Content Engineering for a Multi-Channel World, Cruce brings more than 20 years of experience focused on content delivery technology. His team has delivered more than 300 successful digital and content engineering engagements. Cruce regularly speaks on omnichannel content, content engineering, content asset valuation, intelligent content, machine learning, chatbots, AI, cognitive systems, customer experience platforms, organizational design and change management, and master content models. [A] operates in the US, Mexico, and Latin America and serves large corporations, governments, associations, NGOs and other complex institutions. @mrcruce