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Are You Content With Content?

Nobody got anywhere in the world simply by being content.
– Louis L’Amour

This was the Google quote of the day and as proof that I have been doing this job too long, in my head I put the emphasis on the wrong syllable. I read it con’-tent instead of con-tent’.

This made me wonder if I am getting anywhere with this? Am I con-tent’ with con’-tent. Or better yet can simply having content get you anywhere in the world.

Many have mused that context is the yin to content’s yang. Context provides the backdrop for interpretation and utility of content. In the end neither is interesting without the other but we spend so much time discussing content I can’t help but think our business and technologies are out of balance. Why is this?

Taxonomies were once all the rage and long dominated our efforts to provide contextual support in content management. A handy contextual construct certainly but I knew we had gone too far when I saw content taxonomist on a business card. Taxonomist is a title best reserved for speculative scientists sketching variations of beak shape on remote tropical islands.

In a business setting taxonomist just sounds pretentious and unapproachable. From a technology standpoint though it would seem we near the end of what taxonomy alone can do for content and we are now well into the next phase of our exploration.

Enter semantics and ontologies. Deep and rich concepts but I am troubled by them both. Primarily because I can’t explain either to the average person. Not because I lack the rhetorical prowess or they lack the intelligence but because most people simply don’t care about what “language” really is and how to create one.

Most people don’t understand context – they simply experience it.

This is why we talk content. Despite its electronic form it remains the tangible part of what we do. The body of the work where the context is the soul.

Where am I going with all of this – I have no idea. Except that as technologist focused on managing the tangible assets knowledge workers depend on (content) we need to do a better job explaining and providing tools that manipulate the context to our customer’s advantage.

We can’t simply be content with content and expect to get anywhere.

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