Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Organizing my information intake

Now that we've finally dropped all our printed newspapers, and with (a little) extra time to focus, it's time to get my news and information organized online.

First, why did we drop our newspapers? They are still one of the most effective, portable, browsable forms of news (at least until I get a new cell phone or maybe a kindle). But, honestly, I was sick of recycling newspapers, of paying extra for news delivery, especially when the current news deliverer kept mixing up which newspaper we were receiving. Oh, and yes, there was that recent morning where my snow blower was seriously jammed sucking up the Boston Sunday Globe - haphazardly lurking under a layer of snow. Nice. And expensive to repair.

So online we go. Here is the first one I ran into: I was immediately captivated by this site, which shows various channels of news from syndicated publications around the world. Trash talk aside, it has some great features. For example, you can create a new channel with refined search terms in seconds. I created one for Boston for example, with all news that contains the word 'Boston' - with pretty good results. With more refinement in the search terms and type of content, I'll be able to get just what I want.

MyWired also has a section for premium news, where you can pay for specific content in a subscription or for $1 an article. This might be useful, though I think the rate should be reduced for me to go for it at this time - maybe to 10 cents per article. I'm watching the section for now. $4.95 per month might be worthwhile if this becomes my main news intake.

Finally, it has some community features - put up a profile or share your channels or articles with others. These might be interesting features - especially if folks have put up really interesting or successful customized channels.

MyWired gets my provisional vote on, though I'm going to wait and see what else I can find out there. It might need more features and certainly needs to get out there more - only found 2 results searching on Twitter for MyWire - and they are not very relevant.

Will look at something else tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

State of the quest

It's been a long road advancing publishing technology. What started in earnest for me about 10 years ago has become something of a career track. I've played it on many sides, from development to management, to executive oversight, to consulting, to sales. What has remained constant in all of this activity is essentially an intense vision and pursuit of an ideal publishing environment. That ideal environment can be made up of systems, applications, formats, scripts, as well as people, vendors, and processes. But for business purposes, it should be judged as a whole.

It seems worthwhile to briefly review the ideal publishing environment at this time. What are its core features?

1. Frictionless. Content transformation is essentially effortless. Digital and print content of all kinds can be produced repeatedly without the use of manual production (whether performed by editorial, internal production, scripting support, or offshore teams). Producing a publishing product in any required format is essentially effortless once the environment is up and running and configured to do so.

2. Empowering. Empowerment of content developers, such as editorial, to concentrate on their work. This includes the use of the most powerful tools for writing and editing, and the best tools for design or media production. But it also includes an elimination of any production tasks performed by content developers, including file management, routing, tagging, etc. It must be noted, however, that an ideal publishing environment cannot be achieved with a laissez-faire desktop publishing mentality. Though desktop publishing creates the empowerment ideal, it comes at a cost for all of the other features of the ideal publishing environment. Some adjustment of how content producers and others work may be required. Finally, empowerment means that the publishing environment itself should not be so complicated as to get in the way of content development.

3. Immediacy. Ability to publish approved content immediately, with no delay of any kind and no time wasted on content production tasks. This can include no delay of any kind prior to publishing, in passing content from one user or group to another. This does not, it should be noted, mean any additional pressure on editorial or design to produce content faster, though the environment should, when necessary, be able to adapt to a higher pressure situation. It does mean that throughput is the fastest possible required to produce a normal publication.

4. Availability. Availability of content to the right people at the required time. Searching for content should be effortless. Retrieval of content should be at a level of granularity that requires no additional browsing of search results or within the retrieved content itself. Metadata such as rights information should be immediately available at the point of need - including at the point of editing content at any granular level. Additionally, no irrelevant metadata should be provided to users at various points in the process. Finally, availability may mean ease of content access among various devices and software applications.

5. Flexibility. The ability to reuse or customize content at an appropriate level of granularity to create new products. But this can also mean the ability of the environment itself to be quickly reconfigured for new purposes and product types. This in turn implies the ability of an environment to quickly, effortlessly, and iteratively adjust any its components to allow continual improvement of the publishing process.

If these are the 5 fundamental characteristics of the ideal publishing environment, how does your own environment rate? How do the CMS, DAMS, web and desktop applications, rights management systems, etc. that you are considering rate? How do they rate individually, and how do they rate as an integrated environment? Yes, this is more a forest through the trees exercise - how does the forest rate? I would like to propose that your current environment is measured, analyzed and rated in each of these 5 categories. Then you can come up with a strategy for taking your organization to the next level.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hello World!

Hello world! Time to start a new blog. You can see my previous blogging efforts here.