Cleve Gibbon

content management, content modelling, digital ecosystems, technology evangelist.

On Demand Vs On Schedule

ondemandWe want everything on demand.  From content to food.  But we are programmed to do things on schedule.  This year I’m running a number of mini life experiments to see if I can make long term changes to things that have been bugging me for, well, a long time.  Here’s the first, with a couple of lessons learnt, moving from an on-schedule to an on-demand mindset.
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Planning, Productivity and Progress – The Power of P

cookie-monster-letter-pI love the letter P.  A powerful plosive that you can’t pronounce without putting your lips together – go on, do it – and then POW!

We need to mind our P’s on projects, specifically around planning, productivity and progress.  All important.  Seldom meeting everyone’s expectations.  Because they’re hard and gnarly things to get right.  Across the board. Think about your current or past projects, how did you get on? So, so? Room for improvement?

There’s always room for improvement. We have to get better at doing them or continue to be average in our project outputs and outcomes.  And frankly, who strives to be average these days? Interested? Good.  This way.
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The Rise and Rise of Content Junk

The amount content we produced in 2011 alone exceeded the content created in all previous years combined. ALL previous years combined! We more than doubled the size of our digital content universe.

That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if all that content could get everywhere it needed to be today.  It can’t. Instead, it’s trapped in the applications (CMS, DAM,Word) and/or channels (e.g. Web, Email) that created it.  This is not a sustainable business model for many companies that create and publish content to better engage with their customers.

It’s stupid, costly and uncompetitive to create great content and not invest the time and effort to make it structured and meaningful. To make it future friendly. And yet the rate of growth for digital content continues to rise exponentially, more than doubling every couple of years.  It’s time to stop creating more content (junk) and start making content work more.

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Taxonomy, Metadata and Search at Confab 2012

Notes on Seth Earley’s Confab 2012 Workshop on Taxonomy, Metadata and Search: Put Your Content to Work:

  • It’s okay to have more than one taxonomy.
  • Taxonomy is NOT the same as navigation.
  • You want to create multiple navigation structures from a taxonomy and prevent people from creating multiple taxonomies for navigational purposes.
  • Taxonomies are the organising principles behind metadata and the values that populate metadata fields.
  • Not all classifications are taxonomies.
  • You need clear rules for when the business will own metadata vs when technology will own metadata.
  • Use metadata to drive our content models.
  • Always tag by id and never by term, so that you can change terms without impacting the taxonomy.
  • Need to sell business value of taxonomy to business users.
  • You cannot have a single standard for metadata that will cover all types of content for the Internet of Things.  Embrace that and move on.
  • You have to provide context to concepts to make them meaningful, which makes it difficult to beg, borrow and steal taxonomies from one business and apply it verbatim within your own.
  • What seems like a taxonomy at first, may become a process.
  • Information metabolism is about enabling the business to make information decisions faster.  You need frameworks in place for improving an organisation’s information metabolism.  Example given of Motorola going form 4 weeks to 24 hours.
  • Understanding the different paces of change within your organisation clarifies a lot. You need adaptability in fast moving layers and stability in slow moving ones. Pace-Layering.
  • You must pay attention to the clock speed of your process (e.g. web content (medium), e-commerce(very fast), intranet dev(slow))
  • You need a universal remote control system for taxonomy.  Each application has a remote for their system, a way to implement taxonomies, but there are not universal.  They only pretend to be.
  • Metaphor around moving house was valuable.  So when migrating content, you need to touch it and see where it adds values, instead of  just moving it.
  • Every business case has ancillary benefits, that are harder to quantify.  Stay focussed.  Baseline, benchmark, and have a clear understanding of what value your intervention brings.
  • Be clear on the relationship between maturity and capabilities, and where you as an organisation are on that journey.  Then map your process requirements within the context of known capability gaps and seek to plug them and/or address them later. Use taxonomies in different ways depending upon your maturity.
  • Always build capabilities on solid foundations.  Invest in change management because whilst some folks gradually evolve with you, others have been forced into that change, so build capabilities with this in mind.
  • Don’t ask data architects for taxonomies.  Ask for reference data.  That’s what you really want.
  • When doing taxonomy, you must be thinking about search and SEO.
  • Searchers search ambiguously.  We need to help them disambiguate their queries by giving them values.  Values derived from taxonomies.
  • Beware what happens when you fix search, you find out that your content sucks.

Simple Site for Authors

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series CMS Build Project Paths

An on-going challenge for CMS build projects is that they are pre-dominantly design led with the primary focus set on publishing content. With less attention paid to users in content producing roles, editorial needs are rarely catered.  The new solution goes live and “The CMS” quickly becomes a dirty word because it has not been deployed to effectively create, understand and manage content.  Sound familiar?

Content producers do a lot of things – Create content, Find content, Re-use content, Value content, Review content, Tag content. The CMS also pulls its weight with content: storing, indexing, auto tagging, displaying, recommending, publishing and workflow. This requires us to think really hard about how we intelligently structure content. And that’s where the battle is waged today for both time and effort to do editorial thinking on CMS build projects.

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CMS Build Project Paths

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series CMS Build Project Paths

The importance of digital content to an organisation is growing year on year. At all levels, we’re hearing people asking for better ways to manage their content. Not as fast as we hoped, but this has led to advances in the way content management projects are run. The reality is that the success of content management projects depends heavily upon a company’s digital and content maturity, and the degree to which they are amenable to organisational change within that project’s timeframe. As an expert, consultant and/or supplier brought in to help deliver a content management project, the chosen build path is somewhat pre-determined.

This post is the first in a series short posts that looks at some of the common build paths content management projects take when delivering web sites. Not every project is the same but they do tend to follow a set of common delivery patterns. Let’s start at the beginning with the simple site.

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Back Home

So, after a couple of years of writing for other blogs, which I will continue to do in earnest here and here, I’m coming back home.  No major changes. It will continue to be about the stuff I feel most passionate about:  digital contenttechnology and productivity.

Why? Because I love writing.  I’m not great at it and I’m okay with that.  But it’s the most effective way for me to structure and prioritise my ideas. Seriously people, I have far too many of the buggers.  Also, writing keeps you honest and engaged with others. If you think you know something,write about it.  Writing is a surefire way of finding those pesky gaps in your knowledge that others, often very much smarter than you are, will help you plug.

Looking forward to 2012.


What happened in 2011?

This year has been a little bit crazy. It’s mid November and I’ve called time on 2011. I need to slow down on the conference and seminar scene and try to digest some of the amazing things I’ve learnt listening, reading and watching great people in action.

It’s amazing to see different schools of thoughts appearing in content strategy, clients figuring out what mobile means for them, brand managers trying centralise and re-use digital assets, content producers proactively seeking better authoring experiences to make campaign management low(er) effort, and companies becoming more like publishers online. Times are definitely changing.

However, the real 2011 eye opener for me is that fact that consumers are digitally smarter than the companies trying to engage with them. I mean way ahead.

Meet Tom. He’s a 6th grade mobile app developer. He’s smarter than you and I, and his TED talk video has gone viral. So when trying to engage with folks like Tom online, the digital savvy consumer, to convince him we’re worthy of his time and (soon to be countless) digital dollars, companies are continually being caught with their pants down. Failing to understand social media. Delivering sub-standard customer experiences. Creating disconnected and impersonal user journeys. Exhibiting poor listening skills. The fact is you can’t hide from these digital disasters online. But when the likes of Dell, Burberry and John Lewis, to name a few, demonstrate that they are stepping up to the challenge, 2012 can’t come fast enough.

Consumers have definitely raised the experience bar and they expect all companies they do business with to get with the programme.
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technology and content folks are still disconnected

csforum11-badgeLast week at the Content Strategy Forum 2011 in London I gave a presentation on The Strategist and the Executioner. It was my first outing at a content strategy conference. I met some very smart people and got some great “in the corridor” insights from seasoned content strategists. I learnt lots.

I also found that content folks (strategists) and technologists (executioners) are still somewhat disconnected. The resulting gap has seemingly become an acceptable place to commit car crash content projects with all the usual excuses/finger pointing from both camps. We’re in a bit of a mess. However, my newcorridor content friends were acutely aware of these problem(s) and were full of ideas on how we can clean up the mess. However, as a group we seem to be failing to effectively execute on even the basic ideas. And so the CMS remains the problem of executioners and content the problem of strategists. We need to fix this!

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What do content strategists do?

It’s a question being asked a lot these days.  By clients, the industry, fellow colleagues, creatives, technologists; the list goes on. So in June I attended an EConsultancy course on Digital Content Strategy delivered by Catherine Toole, CEO of Sticky Content to find out from a seasoned content strategist.  It was a great one-day overview that provoked a lot of lively discussion.  Then I got the slide that listed just some of the things a content strategist does.  Take a look:

brand strategy
messaging strategy
competitor content audit
format development
tone of voice
content style guide
copy deck
idea generation
editorial calendar
editorial strategy
SEO/PPC strategy
language guidelines
message map
content production schedule
terms of use
page tables
content licensing
style guide
content approval workflow
migration strategy
content analysis
content audit
content inventory
content assessment
content gap analysis
content model
editorial workflow
content types
quality assurance tools
metadata strategy
cms architecture
content migration plan
metadata framework

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Get In Touch

About Cleve Gibbon

I'm Cleve Gibbon, CTO at Cognifide where we are passionate about digital content.

My sort of up-to-date cv tells you my past, linked in shows you my professional network and on twitter you can find out what I'm currently doing.

This year I plan attend a number of events. Hopefully I'll see you there. I'm easy to find as I'm always laughing. Find out more about me and get in touch!
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