Once again, these are free flowing thoughts that have not been edited, but will be a real time flow of my interpretation of Rachel’s points. (my comments in these thingys)

  • (People filing in, btw lunch kicked ass. I think I want to marry the Gleacher Center)
  • (No idea when @halvorson’s birthday is, but someone better get her one of those Backstreet Boys headset microphone things)
  • Computers are still dumb
  • Semantic web is about solving these areas of complexity
  • machines do things well that people do poorly
  • but they fail sometimes with ambiguous issues
  • Identity + Definition + Structure …
  • There are non semantic ways to describe structure. eg microformats, machine tags, new web standards
  • IDs take something abstract and make it concrete (mathing is hard! still bitter from my stupidity about last night’s bill.)
  • (Wait. There is a service called FREEBASE? Lindsay Lohan is psyched!)
  • Incidents of anti social behavioral meter (holy CRAP there is a term for everything) @lucidplot says it’s fairly political in the UK. Not surprisingly he calls it “rubbish”)
  • (maybe you don’t need to know all about the semantic web, but you at least need to be able to give it a hug and embrace it)(((hugz))
  • (was there life before slideshare?)
  • (here’s a conference idea: Scribes for conference speeches, 1 scribe per speech, scribes compete and are chosen and allow single point of real time tracking for conferences. I’m rambling. )
  • (I think I paid $18 for my margarita last night. One margarita. )
  • Machine Assisted tagging – streamlines the approach for tagging e.g. Tagaroo
  • Content Strategists are need to figure out how to roll out these tools – Related Content Services, Semantic Ad Targeting etc
  • Although at its infancy, the semantic web is real and we need to better understand it.

Alright, next up Joe, here’s my free flowing interpretation.

  • Gleacher Center here at the University of Chicago has the production families of an NFL Stadium, I keep waiting for skycam
  • Get Content – Get Costomers (his book)
  • Junta 42 is the eharmony for content marketing
  • 1 goal for this session is getting just 1 “aha” moment
  • (sensing a little inferiority complex from the Cleveland peeps)
  • Barak had a very good simple effective message
  • Hillary didn’t have something to get excited about
  • (interaction between Joe and Kristina is priceless)
  • Higher purpose, what is the higher purpose of what we are providing to our customers.
  • Purpose has to be clear and has a point of view.
  • Purpose and content can be interchangeable.
  • Love or hate, having a point of view is key.
  • How can we differentiate if we are all talking about the same thing? (oft asked question)
  • What does your content stand for?
  • (points for using, “this is how we roll”)
  • Create your own category
  • Where are your customers?
  • not cheap, just a different kind of expensive
  • (If we put Brogan fans on side and non fans on the other, who wins the tug o war)
  • (sucks that the word process makes people’s eyes roll)
  • create employee rock stars (slippery slope, but he plays it well)
  • Have the employees take a stand when using their social media strategies, otherwise they are going to go do it on their own.
  • indium.com
  • more you blog, the more business you get, simple as that
  • Be a content ambassador
  • First internal advocate, then external
  • Any content you put on your website is a content promise to your customers
  • websitegrader.com
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Free flowing thoughts on Jeff’s talk. (my thoughts in here)

  • Gotta be careful not to over state our case – We are in a little bit of a hype cycle.
  • Content Strategists are strange ducks – no two are alike (this is GOOD and kinda bad perhaps)
  • Day 2 problem – working for launch day, but forsakes the day 2 problem (gimme god damn,  now what do we do?)
  • CS has a lot to do with organizational dynamics
  • you need a management consultant DNA (retainer!)
  • (you want to know why CS will succeed? Because the baseline speakers are effing good, Jeff included)
  • Content inventory needs to be as exhaustive as you can – you have to spider the site (eww) Site Orbiter (sp?)
  • Enormous professional development opportunity for us
  • Shelly Bowen has a good methodology.
  • There is no one methodology – which is good because we need to adapt.
  • Process is nothing w/out the people
  • Product is content, platform is the publishing and people is the organization
  • Scatter/Gather dedicated Razorfish content strategy blog
  • Not about “My methodology is right and yours is wrong” (internal friction will suppress all the hard work we have achieved so far)
  • (personal note: check out the google knol)
  • You are always working on content – Jeff, per Margot Bloomstein
  • Content inventory can be good insurance. not a one off, ad hoc exercise
  • Competitive Analysis: CSers need to know more about this.
  • (It’s amazing the similarities between CS and journalism, don’t cringe, journalism knew what they were doing, they just didn’t adapt)
  • (he used the Content Strateeegery line, *fawn*)
  • Metadata Schema (insert collective eye roll) Necessary evil
  • Metadata proliferates relationships for different pieces of content (my interpretation of his point)
  • Copydeck – user facing content
  • Plumbing – content specification
  • (so sick of hearing everyone is a writer, you know what visual designer, I can draw stick figures too)
  • Grow phase – day 2 – all about post launch. Editorial calendar (yay!)
  • rethink what editorial calendar can do with content production in mind
  • There will be a basecamp for editorial calendars (hope)
  • Style guides, who owns it and make the style guide more dynamic. Where rubber meets road for governance.
  • One glaring asterisks for methodologies – there is no real end (but self governance can solve this?)
  • CS is residence – (cliffhanger for next year)
  • (Buzzword alert!) “Organizational hygiene”
  • Give a strategy for style guides, and put it in an editorial calendar
  • dabbledb.com

Free form diatribe on Kristina’s afternoon workshop.

  • (technical difficulties)
  • (she already has the room at her fingertips)
  • the discussion of content is a very organic process that involves all of us to participate  (and she will steal our ideas)
  • pseudo empowerment to site editors.
  • putting the onus on us. We need to help drive the content strategy discussion.
  • Too often we react to content, it’s a critical biz asset
  • need cs to develop message hierarchy
  • CMS cannot define and refine workflow
  • Governance outlines helps you get funded
  • Content Development falls down when people don’t track what content they are creating.
  • Ask the who what why where when how and cut your content in half
  • Quicken example – sell boxes mint – see myself everywhere.
  • Out there, nobody cares. Make content strategy relevant to the business.
  • Structure = IA
  • CS/IA kinda two sides of the same coin
  • We are lacking case studies big time
  • (Kissing hands, shaking babies. I think I got that right.)
  • content is spread all around, not just on your website.
  • Rolling inventory – inventory that never ends. (yay!)
  • Identify where you can have the biggest impact with the least amount of money and go with it.
  • In need of a spidering tool (look to Norway)
  • You can manually audit up to about 2000 pages.
  • Project charter is part of the content delivery – biz objectives
  • (Break time! 10 minutes people, hustle hustle!)
  • Not every project needs content strategy
  • Don’t shove it down people’s throats. Play your cards carefully.
  • Ecosystem – the environment the where the system live.
  • context, content, users – IA framework
  • Content strategy needs user research.
  • competitor site audits are tricky because it isn’t about keeping up with the jones, but more about discovering your niche.
  • As a strategist you need to listen and let them keep them talking
  • Pain points (we need to do a better job at promoting these to the right audience)
  • Sign off is very important.
  • Doc needs to be easy to use, makes informed decisions, facilitates smart decision making, docs action plan, troubleshoots implementation. Be sustainable.
  • Your one second is driven by visuals, graphics, load, etc. call to action
  • page template vs page table. Page table is not lorim ipsum
  • Gap analysis is a key component of CS
  • workflow can help eek out inefficiencies
  • some websites have become poor business properties
  • empowerment needs to happen or else we are just followers.
  • We so even remotely done. Yes, we’ve been doing this for years, but just now generating buzz.

First workshop of the day with Seth Early. Free form live blog entry of his thoughts (bullets) and mine (in parenthesis)

  • Search is not magic – (praise allah!)
  • Organizational psychologist vs taxonomist
  • (General consensus among the group to better understand the mental mind)
  • You cannot remove all mechanisms for organization, you need to know how content is formed.
  • Great point on how you need to know where your financial information comes from just like you need to know how your content is formed. For example, you don’t want to know how much money you have, you want to know where your money came and went.
  • User research is much cheaper if you do it at the onset.
  • (I totally need more cream for this coffee)
  • Things change faster in the business world than they do in the technical world (really? because I think it’s a pretty neck in neck race)
  • Some content is unambiguous (IA)
  • Some content has various meaning and nuance (semantic)
  • System for organizing information (parent child/relationship) – Taxonomy
  • Is mr potato a action vegetable figure? Discuss (this begets the semantic conversation)
  • Goal of Taxonomy an organized, agreed upon mechanism for naming (preferred term)
  • Taxonomy is a common language for business (gimme god damn, YES!)
  • Cannot get the attention of the organization (common/maddening pain point)
  • People think search is like a utility that you just plug in and it works. (I can see some great infographics being formed around this point)
  • We have to think of search as an experience.
  • Search is about metadata whether we have it or not
  • If content is structured it is easier to derive metadata.
  • Search is messy (hmmm, I have heard the same thing about content)
  • People search in very ambiguous terms, but want very specific results.
  • Search is a conversation, when a question is asked, there are follow up back questions, the need for disambiguation.
  • (Feeling wicked smaht that I have a good example for disambiguation.)
  • News stories are inherently structured (who what why where what) (Waiting for the journalist to stand up and shout “Recognize!”)
  • (Just noticed I still have yellow spots on my hand from this weekend’s unfortunate exploding spray paint incident.)
  • Organizations do not think about the lifecycle of their content. Reuse/archive/disposal
  • Social tagging – folksonomy Structured tagging – taxonomy
  • break
  • email is notoriously unstructured
  • Content object model – map of the structure of a document
  • content metadata allows for reuse.
  • UX is at the intersection of taxonomies, metadata and content objects.
  • when you tag content, you have such a better idea of what the user is doing (my interpretation)
  • (I drink an unconscionable amount of water.)
  • I look at taxonomy as an extension of metadata.
  • still confused as to who governs the taxonomy.
  • Google one box – still configuration once you get under the hood
  • You can use your taxonomy to define your trigger, provider, etc
  • You are not going to get the same internal/external experience – Argument for why you don’t simply just “Get the google”
  • Mapping synonyms – taxononmy
  • (Biggest takeaway from the workshop so far is my ability to type taxonomy wicked fast.)
  • a thesaurus is a specialized taxonomy
  • ontology is a collection of taxonomy
  • Goals of taxonomy – improve ux
  • (Disagree with the assertion that not all information can’t be intuitive.  Organized properly I believe it can.)
  • Taxonomy is not the same as navigation (hammered home)
  • (totally want this list of doc types) Analyst report, assessment, benchmarks, best practice, brochures, campaign, case studies, competition, config guide, contract, customer reference, data sheet, event, faq, guides, license agreements, migration, presentations, press releases, price lists, quick ref guide, white papers (whew…I got it)
  • (Current line for lunch menu: halved sammiches: 2/1 Lobster rolls: 61/1)
  • Navigational Taxonomy? (officially lost)
  • Facet is a top level category in the taxonomy
  • Categorizing content- statistical/linguistic vs rules-based
  • All content is not equal
  • Folksonomy does not inherently help. More an internal mechanism than an external help.
  • Lunch!

Last night Content Strategy New England was lucky enough to have Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic come in for a great discussion on the ins and outs of content strategy. Huge thanks to Rick Allen and Mad*Pow for cosponsoring the event.

Below are my observations and take-aways:

  • Close your eyes and envision you are Kristina Halvorson for a day. You are so redonkulously passionate about content, you have inspired thousands with your book Content Strategy for the Web. Pretty sweet. Do you have an ego? No. Are you funny as hell? Yes. Even though you have dedicated your career to something you love, are you still passionate about it? Yes, yes and yes. (OK, open your eyes, you look weird). It’s inspiring to watch her in action. Made me oddly happy as I want to do the same thing.
  • Maintenance vs. Governance – Kristina made the point that maintenance implies automation (read:CMS) and governance implies individual actions. If we had more time, I would have loved to ask how do we defend the concept of governance when there is so much attrition throughout a project or content lifestyle.  I know there are room for both content strategists and CMS consultants, but so often we are pushed toward the tactic (CMS) and not the thought behind it (content strategy). Hoping I have some time in Chicago in a couple weeks to hammer this out.
  • Christ on a cracker, there is a need for content strategy consultants (or at the very least a Brain Traffic East) in Boston. What I kept hearing was the need from designers for a content strategist on their project. You’re right, we can’t do it all. We need to make sure we help put content strategists in touch with those who need us. Next meetup, I propose all content strategists just put their business cards on the front table. Kidding. Not really.
  • Great question posed concerning the role of a content strategist in client’s hierarchical structure. Peer or leader? This began a great discussion on collaboration and how important it is to be an active collaborator. As a content strategist, you are not barking orders or screaming to be heard. You are part of every part of the project life cyle. Your ability to mediate with different people is just as important as the guidance you give to your client.
  • Someone mentioned MacGyver. I immediately wanted to write a blog entry on Jack of all Trades (MacGyver) morphing into the company laughing stock (MacGruber). To be tackled at a later date.

In summary, I left wanting more. I could have used 3 more hours either asking questions or offering advice on people’s questions. I am beyond curious to know what other CS meetup groups are talking about. In fact, if anyone wants to road trip with me, I am totally driving down to New York for their next meetup.

I’m 35 and I sound like a 15 year old at their first concert. I guess it’s just because I’m inspired which tends to put a hop in one’s step.

Title may have nothing to do with the main entry, but it’s dead sexy no?

The other day I was listening to Master of Puppets as I am wont to do when the rest of my family is not home and I have some gruntish type activity to carry out. Hence the title.


This week’s challenge has centered around selling Content Strategy to high level executives. The irony was not lost on me as I failed at creating a simple paragraph to describe Content Strategy’s “less is more” mantra. I needed like 5 paragraphs and even then I only felt like I was scratching the surface. Funny how you think you know very little about a subject until you try to squish it in a paragraph.

So I thought, I head scratched, I tweeted, I tweaked and may have snuck in an adult beverage (I was at home, it was late). I was torn by what I wanted to say and what I had to say.

Thankfully, years ago I learned that even when upper management tells you its employees are what make the company hum, they are blowing smoke up your ass. Any company or high level executive that tells you people make the company successful are lying through their teeth.


Money makes a company successful. As much as they care about their staff, they care about money more. Always have, always will (at least if they want to stay in business).

So again, I sat in my dank home office scratching my head.

What I wanted to say:

I am fucking awesome. I am the best writer in your company and I know the business of writing better than anyone in the area. You are hemorrhaging an ass ton of money by having 50 people write and regurgitate the same written crap because you lack a coherent process that maximizes your brand message, makes your customers ridonkulously happy and saves your company a lot of money.

What I ended up saying:

Every word describing our software and services is a vital link to our customers. Company X’s written content is essential to establishing and retaining customer trust.

Writing, maintaining, locating and sharing our content is time consuming and expensive. Over 50% of our written materials are recreated rather than reused. This inefficiency is costing us money.

A content strategist provides Company X with a proven method for tracking, distributing and maintaining content and sharing it throughout all lines of business.

A Company X content strategist monitors all forms of content; sales, marketing, training and technical, ensuring it is applicable, accurate and useful to our customers. As the industry shifts, the Company X content strategist makes sure we stay on brand message, eliminate dated or unused content and provide a plan for documenting new solutions.

I’m not 100% happy with it and I know it has a long way to go. Revising this elevator pitch is akin to your own resume. I welcome feedback.

In conclusion, I made it less about me and more about money.

I guess the subject title wasn’t so far off.

It’s no secret I love me some house projects. 2 years ago, my wife and I had the psychotic idea to add to our home. Both literally (by way of a house addition) and figuratively (via baby #2).
During the demolition phase, I was torn on what to do with all the bricks from our old chimney. In typical yankee fashion, I knew somehow I’d find a use for the bricks later on. With limited space in our seaside property, I put the bricks in a heap somewhere.
Months later, they were in the way, so I moved them. A year later, although neatly stacked and out of the way, I finally found a use for them, and moved them yet again, staging them for a soon-to-be constructed wall by yours truly.
Aside from being an avid recycler, I am super cheap. Like wicked cheap. I knew these bricks were about $1 a piece and I had about 500 of them.
However, after hours of moving, cleaning and stacking was it all worth it?
The jury is still out on that one (I have yet to build the wall)
So what the fuck does this have to do with content strategy?
Telling Your Story Brick by Brick
Every day we’re faced with bricks of content. As writers, editors, project managers, strategists daily decisions revolve around whether to toss or salvage old content. If saved, the issue then becomes storage. Fret not, this isn’t a bait n switch CMS diatribe.
For the most part content is cheap to store, doesn’t take up space and easy to find, unless you lack one or more of the following:

  • Systematic naming convention
  • Hierarchical structure for your content
  • Index or inventory
  • Single, reliable repository
  • A plan for what to do with the content

With no plan, schema or single location, you are looking at mounds of bricks scattered throughout your workplace. Stored neatly in one place, you’re cooking with gas. You aren’t dealing with lost time and resources locating, naming and organizing old content.
The liability stems from not having a plan. If you don’t remember where you put piles of bricks, a coworker, unsuspecting IT professional or even your boss could walk by, see a bloated mess of un-structed content and toss it, mistaking it for rubbish, which if you ever seen a pile of bricks is exactly what it looks like: Ugly trash.
Cheap Bricks Stay in One Place
It’s great that I saved my old bricks, because years later I really did need them. However, I really didn’t save myself $500. I spend hours of my time moving and stacking those bricks several times, reducing their value every time. If I had a solid plan years ago, I would have saved time and energy.
Having a game plan for your content may not seem like a top priority now. However, every time you have to move, manage, rename handle your bricks of content you are diminishing its value to you, your organization and most importantly your audience.