Sunday, October 31, 2010

Smarter, Richer, Better Content: Wrapping up Two Weeks of Content Conferences

It's been one of those intense stretches of back-to-back industry events when my mind was beginning to go into permanent live-blogging mode. From Smart Content 2010, to the Really Strategies RSuite Users Conference, to the Connecticut Digital Media Conference, to a great Fairfield County TEEM event,  to the Mark Logic Digital Publishing Summit and wrapping up with the Infosys Leadership Summit. Phew. I live-blogged these events on Google Buzz, so you'll find links to those detailed notes and photos of panels here, along with some of my summary take-aways from each of these great events.

An overarching theme that came out from these events is that organizing content using analytics and semantic organization is not producing huge breakthroughs this year but it is enabling important incremental progress in generating revenue in media and enterprise markets. Increasingly, it's the metadata and value-add information generated by people using content and for people seeking it that's generating the most value in electronic publishing today. This raises a key question: when do we arrive at a point when the value of metadata, taxonomies and other content assets exceeds the value of the intellectual property that many publishers consider to be their crown jewels? Hint: while many publishers are wondering about the answer, many search engines, collaborative publishing platforms and analytics tools suppliers aren't waiting for them to come with it. Now, on to the links-a-thon!

Smart Content 2010: Case Studies and Tools for Better Search, Sites and Ecommerce

Seth Grimes managed to pack in an enormous amount of content into this day-long event, which had a lot of great case studies from media and enterprise markets around the world demonstrating how semantic analysis tools and content organization technologies were improving information products and services. One of the key points emphasized in this event was how the ability to analyze content and user interests was enabling more accurate, more rich and more engaging content on Web sites and in mobile apps more automatically. The art may be progressing incrementally, but this was an impressive collection of practicioners with great stories to tell. I also delivered a short introductory talk on "A Brief History of Content" that framed the importance of Smart Content in light of people's expectations to have more intuitive media and information services. Live-blogs:
RSuite Users Conference: Best Practices in CMS and A Peek Into Google Editions

I caught the tail end of this event in Philadelphia on my way back from an SIIA Content Division board meeting in Washington, DC. What I heard briefly is how publishers are making progress with RSuite's ability to accelerate publishers' efforts to build more rich content with better tagging and on-the-fly content organization. But the "easter egg" was Google Edition's Andrew Littell giving the conference a preview of its "soon" to be released new online book ecommerce service. Andrew was typically tight-lipped about most details, but some interesting tidbits about the program slipped out nevertheless. Apparently a good portion of the delay has been due to Google fine-tuning the user apps, ecommerce and partner relationships to ensure a very rewarding experience for readers. I suspect that some of the delay is also due to trying to get PayPal nailed down as an ecommerce partner. Very good networking. Live-blogs:
Connecticut Social and Digital Media Business Conference/Fairco TEEM

This conference in Stamford, Connecticut drew a very interesting group of leading media and technology investors as well as some very interesting technology companies, who together demonstrated that the content industry's star is beginning to rise in the Nutmeg State. The state government is getting more serious about making funds and incentives available for innovative media and technology startups, and both private and corporate investors are beginning to loosen up their purse strings to stimulate innovations also. Angel investors are leading the way in the NYC/CT area, with initial investments in smaller increments than in years past but beginning to be spread around more liberally. While Manhattan may not see too many of these smaller bets, the boroughs of New York City and nearby Fairfield County in Connecticut are key beneficiaries. The TEEM event featured a very interesting demo of Kantar Video's new Videolytics  cross-platform video analytics beta, which I will blog about in more detail later. Live-blogs:

This year's edition of the MLDPS drew a great crowd to hear presentations focused mostly on legal, scholarly, medical and sci-tech publishers using Mark Logic tools to prepare their content for multi-platform digital transformation, but also a great keynote by Wired Magazine's Chris Anderson on the future of media in the tablet age (AKA The Second Web). Chris laid out some very interesting price points for potential premium content packaging on tablet applications, emphasizing how tablet computing is keeping people engage for 40 minutes or more at a stretch. Perhaps so, but for whose content? My experience with Google TV leans me towards people wanting agnostically aggregated streams of content that will engage them  for eight to ten minutes at a time. More on this in a future post. Live-blogs:

This was an intimate meeting that had some great experts in search and semantic technology implementation detailing what is really working today. One of the important themes that emerged from this session was the importance of translation services in taking semantic processing to its next level of value generation. Smart content is working well in English, but needing to merge content from multiple languages and multiple work and consumer cultures with diverging and overlapping information ontologies and taxonomies is presenting an important challenge - and a very interesting opportunity. Live-blogs:
So there you have it, a fantastic two weeks of learning, networking and discussions with many of the content industry's leading luminaries. Clearly publishers are beginning to embrace leading content technologies aggressively now to enrich their content offerings, increasingly developing highly tailored and personalized content and publications to meet the needs of media and enterprise audiences. We heard a lot about workflows in the enterprise being enabled by these technologies, but many of today's enterprise needs are not necessarily going to wait for traditional business analysis and software development. Similarly, media companies now have great digital asset management services but they're just in the early days of customizing their content automatically to provide highly tailored and intuitive experiences for their audiences. The best in online publishing and media is yet to come, fueled by renewed investments in content services and technology development by East Coast companies seeking to shift revenues into digital media aggressively. I am looking forward to it all - but please, a few weeks off from the live-blogging, if you don't mind. 
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