Karen McGrane – Content in a Zombie Apocalypse – btconfDUS2014

hey you guys want to know what I think is awesome beyond tell around come on up I speak at about a million of these things and this is one of the nicest best organized and also the most attractive audiences I think I’ve seen you know what else I think is amazing print print is a fantastic technology I mean you put the words on the paper and they stay there you have to worry about keeping it updated all the time man print was fantastic and so when you really when you kind of take a look at the history of human communication and you realize that we’ve had hundreds of years of the printing press and nearly thousands of years of communicating in written documents that the history and the values and the culture of print and how you get ink on paper is so deeply intertwined with what it means to communicate priority or hierarchy or relationships of information and that those cues are so deeply ingrained and how human beings think about communication that it’s really hard to get away from him and then we had to go and invent the web which unbalanced I think has been totally worth it but man is it a pain in the ass so the web as you all know just turn 25 25 years of the web and I think when you when you kind of look i’m a huge nerd for computing history and i love understanding sort of the underpinnings of our field or or the generations that came before us and so when you look at the web you look at the very foundations of this tool hypertext markup language HTML and the Uniform Resource locator the URL those technologies were designed with the explicit intent that anyone anywhere could create a document that could be updated in janie ously and accessible globally and I mean when you kind of take a step back from like the day-to-day stuff that we’re all doing and trying to figure out and really just appreciate how transformational that is in the history of human communication i mean just how different that is from everything that has come before 25 years it’s just like not even enough time for us to have truly wrapped our head around the way that the web is different and so as a result for the last 25 years or so we’ve been kind of like ban dating ourselves along by imagining that well I mean a web page it’s really just just like a piece of paper to write I mean it’s not really all that different from a piece of paper and so to me now with the rise of mobile devices this is what is forcing us to acknowledge for the first time they’re really come to terms with the way that the web is different and I’ll be clear about this the web has always been different it’s just that we’ve been able to kind of treat the web page like a crutch but now with the rise of mobile devices and now tablets we have to give up the shared hallucination that we have all been operating under that we have any control over the presentation that we have any control over the size of somebody screen or the layout that they have or the input mechanism that they’re going to be using that’s gone and it’s not coming back and so this to me this is the real transition of mobile this is when i talk about content strategy for mobile or publishing to mobile I don’t mean publishing on smartphones or different devices I mean how do we as human beings wrap our heads around the idea that no longer can we treat whatever we want to publish as if it is locked to any one

particular output format and you know you might look here at that now desktop computer and smartphones and tablets and kind of go well you know that’s already a pain in the ass to deal with but the problem here is it’s not gonna stop so maybe no i won’t i want to be clear about this i am not a futurist okay I am NOT here to predict for you what I think the next big thing is gonna be okay like if I could do that I’ve been making a fortune but what I am here to do is explain that something else is going to come along there will be some new device some new platform some new communication technology and whatever that is we’re gonna have to find a way to publish to it we’re going to have to find a way that we can get our content onto it so maybe that next new thing is smart TV a lot of people hypothesizing that the next great wave is going to be fighting over the living room and I think when you look at some art the smart TV interface I think that really starts to drive home any any lingering hope that you might have that you can make assumptions about the size of somebody’s screen or what type of device they’re using to interact with it I mean just this the sheer range and diversity of different platforms and different input mechanisms that we have to deal with is so great that the idea that we’re still trying to design for any particular one I mean it’s like at what point do you start to go wait a minute we just can’t do that anymore is it the point where we’re trying to figure out how we can design for the smallest smartphone screen all the way up through the largest 60-inch you know giant living room screen you know it’s like recognizing that that’s the leap we have to make will make this challenge easier but maybe it’s not smart TV maybe it’s in car systems okay so a lot of automotive manufacturers are already embedding sensors and screens into their automobiles and for me when I when I look at this what I don’t see is people trying to use a touch screen while they’re driving what I see integrated system in which there will be both a touch screen and an audio component and when you realize this it’s like oh right like the opportunity here is going to be around combined systems where people are integrated and interacting both with screens and through audio interfaces and I know there’s kind of the sense that like audio interfaces just aren’t quite ready for prime time yet I mean you talk to Siri and you know she makes a bunch of mistakes and it’s not a very great experience you know what else didn’t work really well for like forever touch screens touch screens were terrible you’d go to the ATM and you’d have to figure out how to angle your finger just exactly right in order to get the button to push for decades touch screens were seen as this also Ram technology that was never really going to quite make the prime time and then one day touch screens worked they worked perfectly and it transformed our entire industry in the space of five years I don’t know when audio interfaces are really going to become a reality if it’s five years 15 years 50 years but I know that one day the Star Trek computer is going to become a reality and I got to tell you when I go up and I ask the star trek computer a question the last thing I want to hear it read back to me is HTTP colon slash slash and you know when you start peeling back oh right what does that mean for how we construct relationships between the content and our code I’ve had developers ask me sometimes like Karen why do you insist that we even bother trying to parse out the difference between what should be rendered as italics and what should be rendered as emphasis when every major browser since the dawn of time has rendered emphasis as italics not in an audio interface they don’t one of those things conveys visual styling the other conveys semantic meaning in an audio interface emphasis is going to be rendered as a tone of voice so when you start peeling back all those challenges how they work even at the tiniest little HTML tag like you start to realize that our ability to start encoding the meaning of what we publish in ways that are not entirely dependent on the way that they look is what’s going to help us survive the future and I hope it should also make clear that doing the right thing for the future means doing the right thing for accessibility today so I don’t know maybe the next big thing

is going to be google glass I don’t really think Google glass is going to be the next big thing I think google glasses like the segway of mobile it’s like a Segway but for your face but I will say I agree with Robin kristoffersen that the idea of wearable technology is a very real prospect I worked with a client recently that publishes a giant print catalog and the products that they make our industrial products there are intended to be used used in factories and so I had a conversation with them where I’m like look guys we all know that a day is going to come at some point in the future where you will no longer publish this print catalog and I don’t know when that’s gonna be I’m not going to say if it’s five years or ten years from now but at some point you’re going to say this world that we live in no longer needs a two-inch-thick print catalog of all of our products so what happens when that day comes and wearable heads-up displays are a reality on the factory floor what happens when the type of audience that you want to communicate with you know working in these industrial environments you know needing needing the ability to get information in a hands-free environment what if that’s the next platform that you need to publish to is your content going to be ready to go there or maybe a better question is you need to start acting now to figure out how you’re going to get your content into a format so that it is not locked up intended to be printed only in this one document but rather it has the flexibility so that you can get it on to another platform so you know if Google glass isn’t the next big thing maybe the next big thing is gonna be watches right everybody’s talking about watches a galaxy gear and the pebble maybe an Apple watch and again you know people sometimes like well Karen like why do you care about watches like no one’s ever going to want to read a long document on their watch and that may be true but when you think of a watch as existing in a larger ecosystem of devices when you imagine that that watch is a controller for a smart TV or provides a notification from a smartphone or can be a touchscreen a small touch screen interface that it would allow someone to interact with an audio interface that they engage with their headphones now you start to see right it’s not just that my contact needs to live on that platform but it might need to be accessible and navigable on that platform and we might have to find ways to represent it on ever smaller or different screen sizes but you know okay watches so tiny maybe not the next big thing right maybe the next big thing is gonna be stadium scoreboards woohoo let’s get our content where everybody can see it guys this is a joke I’m funny aren’t I yeah I put this in here as a joke because I thought it would be funny because the watches are so tiny and then the scoreboards are so big and then I turned around and I had a client tell me that the biggest problem that they’re trying to solve right now is digital signage I worked at the University and they said Karen we have a mobile website we have an appt and we just bought these signs these digital signs that we want to put up all over campus and what we want to do is we want to have one central place where we can manage and maintain all of our content and then we want to be able to send things like events listings or alerts to students or information about what’s going on on campus to these three very different platforms and we want to be able to do it automatically and I was like hmm have you thought about treating the digital signs like they’re a completely separate workflow and just having someone manage those like their asylum they were like Karen ain’t nobody got time for that no this the whole reason we’re talking to you is we want a way to manage and maintain our content in one place and have the right information go to three very different platforms this is not some crazy futuristic dystopia that these people are living in this is like right now I probably have to solve today and so if you have to solve digital sinus problems in the enterprise maybe we all will be safe facing the same problems in our homes can’t talk about the future without talking about the internet refrigerator again I don’t really think the internet refrigerator is going to be the technology of the future but the idea that our homes will eventually have a network of connected devices and sense maybe smaller screens heck maybe instead of the internet refrigerator maybe a better idea is that one day your cooktop your glass cooktop will have a giant iPad screen embedded into it and on the glass you’ll be able to watch videos or look at recipes or the news while you’re cooking or and I want to say I think that this is the biggest problem that we

are facing as a society today what happens when toaster printers become a reality is your content ready to be burned onto delicious toast these are the problems that we’re here to solve together so right now today organizations already faced the challenge of how do they publish to a variety of different platforms and screen sizes they’ve got content that needs to exist on the web and it already has to exist in social channels or in blogs or in microsites maybe an email and now they’re wrestling with well how do we publish to the mobile web how do we deal with apps on smartphone platforms and on tablets heck is this the opportunity for us to actually wrangle what we’re publishing in print versus what we publish in digital channels and tomorrow there will be an ever greater number of new devices and platforms and screen sizes it is a veritable zombie apocalypse of new devices and platforms there’s too many of them for us to battle by treating every single one of them as if they’re an independent platform how are we going to protect ourselves from the zombie apocalypse well the answer I think lies deeply and something that I know pretty much everybody in the web has spent some time thinking about which is how do we achieve the idea of having true separation of content from form and you know I feel like this is one of these subjects that that everybody who works on the web has an opinion about you know I sometimes will ask people like what do you think that means people are like CSS but in reality like what this means it goes so much deeper than just any one person’s or anyone any one point of views window on what this means it goes all the way through what every single person who is responsible for the website does and you know the idea that we now have so many different output formats that we have to publish to that we can no longer imagine that any one of those outputs is primary or that we can intend the meaning that we’re trying to communicate to be communicated for only the visual language or the styling of that one platform do you have any idea just how transformational that is in the history of communication I mean just how different that is from everything that’s come before I mean when you imagine this this monk here sitting you know laborious lehan scribing documents the very notion that you would say let’s think about the meaning of what you are trying to communicate separate from the actual physical form of this document let’s talk about how you might communicate structure or priority or relationships or hierarchy in this document separate from any one particular instance of this physical form it wouldn’t make any sense throughout most of human history there was no reason why we should even talk about this and now with the web and mobile devices and different platforms and whole zombie apocalypse I think that this is the real challenge that we are facing we need new tools we need new processes in order to make this happen and so when Dan Jacobson here he is the API guy from netflix and he’s formerly from NPR when he says that the future of content management systems is in their ability to capture the content in a clean presentation independent way it’s real tempting to reduce that to a problem with markup to think that we can get rid of this just by getting rid of rich text editors and you know I I am you know I really hate rich text editors on the web that I ray and you know shake my fist at the limitation of these things that I called blobs which is this big messy bucket where we give a content creator big field and just tell them Oh dump whatever you want in there you know if you wanna if you want to add a table and you know drop in some custom bullets which are not using SVG and you want to take a table of contents box and like float that over to the right you just go right ahead you just make this look exactly like a word document this even says the word like interface makes it make content creation easy for business users who know nothing about HTML and want to keep it that way and so the challenge here the problem here is that the styling information that this content creator embedded in this blob

that has meaning attached to it I mean sometimes developers will say oh yeah you got to go in and strip all that out when you want to take it to another platform strip all that out that content creator intended something when she took that table of contents box and floated it to the right she wanted that to convey that this was you know an aside or it was you know some sort of information that was set off from the document but unfortunately the only tools that she had to communicate that came through what she wanted that document to look like rather than what that actually meant and so I’m rail against the idea that we treat publishing on the web as if it’s just like Microsoft Word and we give content creators this WYSIWYG what-you-see-is-what-you-get toolbar at the top and let them just style that stuff anyway they want it I’ve gotten kind of the reputation as being the president of the WYSIWYG haters club and I want you guys to know I mean it’s fun to come and talk to people at meetings like this but my graffiti crime spree is also going exceptionally well yeah I do R it’s really getting the message out and so you know when I when I talk about you know why I think WYSIWYG is so bad sometimes people come up to me and it’s like they assume i’m some kind of markdown evangelist and they’re just like yeah marked down all the way and i’m like well the problems not the toolbar I mean I kind of don’t care if somebody gets a button at the top of their screen that they can use to actually add some some truly semantic formatting know the problem with WYSIWYG is that we are giving content creators an antiquated metaphor from the desktop publishing era to communicate to them what it means to publish on the web you guys know where WYSIWYG came from it came from Xerox came from the research groups rocks park because they invented the laser printer think about that format up until this point a Xerox machine could only make a copy of a document that already existed Xerox invented a way that you could print out whatever you wanted except they needed a way for you to actually be able to create that document and so they invented the entire concept of what you see is what you get they invented the entire concept of the graphical user interface so that they could sell laser printers and arguably the laser printer is the most important component of the entire personal computing revolution demand for laser printers demand for desktop publishing is what drove people to start buying apple computers and to start buying PCs and Dubai laser printers and print out really badly formatted newsletters and be used too many fonts and as a result directly coming out of that personal computer revolution it led directly to the web and drive for demand for personal computers to run the web and I think all of us here actually probably have jobs today because of the personal computing revolution that was sparked by the laser printer and so I think it’s with a great deal of respect for the history of how we have been using these tools over the last 30 years or so when I tell you that the web is not a laser printer there is nothing about the web that is anything like a laser printer I mean the very notion that we are using this metaphor of a printed page or what you see is what you get to communicate to content creators what it means to publish on the web is an outdated mental model where we are basically giving them a crutch and saying think of this just like a word document Ted Nelson says that imitating paper on a computer screen is like tearing the wings off a 747 and using it as a bus on the highway the web is better than print I mean the web can do so much more than print the idea that we have dynamically published information that can be sent can be targeted three sent all over the globe that is why I say that we are fighting a war it war between blobs and chunks blobs are these messy formatting rich globs of stuff where we’ve dumped content and markup and everything in the kitchen sink into one big messy blob of a field and when it comes time to take that information to another platform or target little bits of that information you can’t do it and chunks are clean well formatted presentation independent bits of content that are intended from the start that they can and will live on a variety of different platforms in a variety of different ways we are

fighting a war people we cannot wet the blobs win and so what this means if we talk about what it really means to get away here to truly separate content from form I think the real limitation here the thing that though we all just stumble back into no matter you know you might say yes the page is dead but you know what we are still as an industry and as humanity rife with what I think of as container first thinking our goal is to say okay first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to figure out what the box is that I’m going to fill and then afterwards I’ll figure out what I’m gonna put it on and you see it over and over again what does Photoshop do first time you open it up the first thing that asks you how do big do you want that canvas to be sure you can change it but it’s like the primary decision that you are making is how big do I want my thing to be great Ethan Marcotte describes his initial process for doing the Boston Grove redesign I says we began by identifying some common break points by saying okay well let’s figure out what the what the different containers are that we’re going to fill and to his credit he also will tell you don’t do this or lately we’ve been told that cards are the future of the web cards they’re like pages but tiny so and and this mean I this this certainly is a principle that comes from the design perspective I mean I can I can very easily see how if you’re a designer it is very hard to imagine what it is that you’re going to be designing unless you put some kind you know you want to draw a box around something right maybe ever smaller little boxes of things but you’re still trying to bound that somewhere but this isn’t just you know a problem for design it is also a problem in the very architectures of our systems I’m working with a client right now and I get to see a lot of companies come to content management underpants and so I’m like rootin around in their system they give me a list of all of the content types that they publish and this is what it says and I’m like oh oh that’s interesting some of these things are not like the others even baked into the very architecture of their content management system they are saying oh here are some of the actual pieces of content that we publish we publish articles and press releases and faq s but we also have this notion that the container of the content a carousel or a rapper or an accordion those are content types too but they’re not and so this idea that we are still struggling with how do we make choices about what we do and what we design how we publish separate from what it should look like or what the little box should be around it the technique that we use to do this is something called content modeling and so content modeling is essentially the process of starting with your content and figuring out from the start what are all the little bits and pieces that you’re working with and so content modeling is what makes lots of things possible it makes possible that NPR create once published everywhere model this is a very much talked about case study I’ve talked about it many times in my in my talks but what it means is that they have a flexible set of content that then they can dynamically target to whatever platform or screen size or device they want to because they know the underlying content structure before they start designing they are more able to make good decisions about how they should stop interact with that content for any given platform it’s also what makes possible this digital signage project that I talked about so I teach you the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan they have these digital signs they also have a website now I could look at a web page like this and see that it was entirely published as one big blob everything on that page could just be one big WordPress field and somebody is like oh I’ll put a picture in there and then I’ll put all of the text about the event but the problem is if that event listing isn’t properly structured there’s not underlying chunks of data behind it then their ability to target the right bits of that content for their digital screens wouldn’t be possible they need that image they need that overview paragraph they need the date and time of the event all separated out us as separate fields so that they can target them dynamically and it’s even what makes possible I think some of the things we’re going to be able to do in responsive design this is an example of the Guardians beta site and you can see okay here’s a block of headlines that have an image at a smaller breakpoint they’ve decided to drop the image out similarly headlines and images and at a smaller breakpoint only for the priority stories only for the first most popular stories or the hierarchy of stories do

they include the image for the secondary stories they drop the image out now those this is a pretty simple example right i mean we could do this today but when you start thinking oh right our job should be to have the right granularity in our content so that as we are thinking about what’s the most important or appropriate presentation at different break points we can actually target the content at more and more fine grains of granularity the ability to do that is going to be content modeling and so content modeling essentially means that you sit down and the first thing you figure out is what type of content do you have might be an article or product spec or recipe or maybe some medical condition you sit down and you figure out what are these things and I’m going to I’m going to tell you something doing this for many people is actually very easy I worked with a hospital this summer and we sat down in a half day brainstorming session we went through and we list have every content type that they thought they could publish you know what they did it they did it really quickly and easily they they understood their content and in fact they were actually really excited about the opportunity to talk about what their content was separate from what template should it run in like they were tired of doing web redesigns where people would come in and be like okay well here’s the six templates you’re going to get what they wanted to do is they wanted to sit down and say what do these content types mean to us what do we think they consist of and so for example they had something called a patient’s story what they were able to do is break down that patient store so instead of just being a big blob they said oh well it’s going to have the information about the condition and the doctor who treated the patient and how old the patient was and where the patient came from and so having all of that information structured allowed them to do more with those patient stories they were able to target them and search them and you know present them in more fluid ways because they weren’t treating a patient story as if it was just one big article blog and so what that is that process that I’m talking about is that we are trying to figure out what the attributes of the content are so that’s why when I talk about chunks sometimes I call them fields or content objects and you say fields and quotes because I want to be real clear I don’t necessarily always mean that an attribute of the content is going to be stored as a separate field in the CMS that way lies madness it’s a combination of fields and markup that allow us to truly you know communicate the semantic meaning of what these attributes are but the content attributes are things that you know a recipe is a super easy one to explain I worked on a product called food and wine this past year so there are their big recipe site and magazine based in New York and so we sat down and we did a massive content modeling of their recipe content type and I think sometimes people are like will recipes that’s pretty simple right i mean i was like the name of the recipe in a picture of the recipe and I don’t know like the steps and the ingredients well it’s true recipe is the core content type and yes there are ingredients and steps that come off of that but honestly to make it actually useful there’s so much more so for food and wine their primary organizing schemas were the category and the chef they focus really heavily on people for their recipes so having the chef is kind of a major organizing principle worked for them and then off of that there were a whole bunch of facets that we would use to categorize the recipes so we had cuisine and culture and diet equipment holiday all of those things were things that they could encode to say oh this is great for a brunch this is great for people who eat gluten free you know this is German food and so that process of defining what that taxonomy was what that model wasn’t what all those facets were made it possible for them to do more with their recipes now you might think well okay great care and you figure it out that’s what recipes are but it’s not the thing is this content modeling exercise is different for everybody even a format that you might think is codified as a recipe so my friend Jeff Eaton has a case study of the larka cookbook this is a kickstarter-funded campaign that has a website it has a variety of mobile apps and not only that it has a print catalog and if you’re the kind of nerd that I am the super interesting thing about this is that all of these platforms even the print cookbook are all being sourced from the same drupal CMS so they had Drupal outputting to the print version as well so they also had to go through a process of content modeling guess yes okay great well they started with a recipe right and you might say well Karen at least like recipes and steps those are the most important thing but no for this for this product their primary organizing principle was a plate so they didn’t want to just have recipes what they wanted to have with a plate of recipes that you would serve together as part of a meal and the chef had very well-considered opinions about what he thought those plates should be so they were categorized by season so what would be fresh during that time and

interestingly enough this chef also had a point of view that there were only three seasons so right there that’s a Content modeling issue and that they were there were different varietals of wine that you would serve with that plate and then beyond that step was actually their primary the way they primarily hung both ingredients and then techniques and so that what they wanted to do for this product was they wanted to store a whole bunch of examples of how you would perform a particular cooking technique and they hold a whole media library of videos of the chef’s actually doing those particular techniques so if you didn’t know how to whip or you didn’t know how to bread you could watch a little video of the chef’s doing that two very different products two very different content models and this is top of mind for me right now because recently just within the last couple of days the New York Times innovation report about their digital usage on the web was leaked if you have any interest in publishing or how people communicate on the web get your hands on this like this version was actually like a faxed copy that somebody leaked to BuzzFeed for me it was like this was like deep throat and so in this innovation report one of the things that they said was here’s the ugly truth about this kind of structured data there are substantial costs to waiting they go on to say for example because our recipes were never properly tagged by ingredients and cooking time we flounder for about 15 years to trying to figure out how to create a useful recipe database we can do it now but only after spending a huge sum to retro actively structure the data there is a huge cost associated to this and I want to give you a little bit of an example from what I think of is the blobby aslam that we have ever blogged on to the web oh yes the PDF sorry Adobe but I mean honestly I feel like there’s going to come a point in the history of the web where we are all going to look back on the fact that we let ourselves band-aid along on the web using a piece of paper I mean it’s it’s literally a piece of paper and it’s because we still haven’t worked out how to support a true print and digital publishing model and so instead we’re letting people get by by treating the web like it’s paper and please allow me to make one thing perfectly clear bracket before I go on nobody is reading your PDF the World Bank recently did a study in which they looked from 2008-2012 at all of the PDFs that they have put online and what they found was thirty-three percent of them a third of them never downloaded at all and what’s worse forty percent of them were downloaded fewer than a hundred times now I mean I’ll be fair this is the World Bank I mean they’re not really good they’re not BuzzFeed they’re not going viral but the fact is PDFs lock valuable contact up in a format that makes it inaccessible for most people most people just don’t go to the trouble of downloading a printed document so that they can read it on their screen Ethan and I once just recently when I talked to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston so that’s that’s the United States Central Bank and this I mean this place is like a PDF farm I mean they are just harvesting PDFs planting and growing them and harvesting them and so when you look at the kind of document that a World Bank or a central bank might publish what sticks out to me when I look at a document like this is all of the different charts and tables and equations and graphs that need to get embedded inside of a larger narrative flow and so the challenge that an organization like the bank faces is that their ability to do the kind of content modeling that I’m describing is extremely limited so what they are doing is there a publishing thing that you know aren’t truly digital you know I mean they’re just they’re not digital native text these things aren’t responsive I mean let watch me go talk to a bank about the number of things that they are publishing in PDFs that just aren’t going to be really appropriately rendered on any size screen other than the desktop they’re not really searchable I mean they can be that a lot of times they’re not and they’re not searchable in the same way that web pages are and similarly they’re not really accessible I mean they can be i think there’s people doing some interesting work and PDF accessibility but this is come on guys like there’s got to be a better way why are we doing this it’s like why are we still relying on what is clearly a completely antiquated model of how we publish to the web well i’ll tell you it’s because

it’s a familiar tool it’s because the tools that we have for publishing simply aren’t sufficient for the kind of people who work at a central bank to go in and actually mock-up their articles like these bankers they can use microsoft word they can go in and they could make their charts and their graphs and they can put in their equations ask them to do that in any HTML editor any content management system today it’s just not good enough and so it also gives them a very simple workflow I mean the publishing process for these organizations is write something in Word export it as a PDF put the PDF on the web the publishing process for how you would take that on if you actually wanted this to be properly structured and much modeled digital content would likely require three or four people to be able to do it so this enables them to get their charts and tables in and but I think most important what the real challenge here is that it allows them to support what is a truly unstructured flow in the document they’re not publishing recipes or product specification or documents that inherently have a very regular structure to them they are publishing documents that by their very definition do not have a structure my friend Jeff eaton published an article on a list apart recently called the battle for the body field where he talks about what he calls responsible blobbing so what do we need to do as an industry to support content creators who need the tools and the flexibility to embed some content types inside of other content types to support a true least unstructured narrative flow without getting caught up in a thicket of fields and the CMS or markup that then starts to introduce you know presentation dependent cruft into the field and what he says is standard HTML is rich enough for a designer to represent complex content it isn’t precise enough to describe and store that content in a presentation independent format and so as we are wrestling with this like I think the challenge that we all have to try to solve here is how do we figure out how do we get all of those blobs of stuff that are stored in PDFs or stored in big blobby WordPress fields and how do how do we pull all of that out and actually make it properly structured well let me give you a little example of what’s required of that so I worked with or I talked to a large professional services organization in New York they just went through a mobile-first responsive redesign where they went through and they said let’s dig into through the massive PDF form that we have and figure out what valuable content we want in there that we can then publish to the web and so they found 6250 PDFs that they wanted to go in and properly model and structure so they could have true digital native text so here’s what it took they did a modeling exercise weight which is basically when I described earlier so they have people like me go in figure out what their content types were what the attributes of those content types work it took four people three weeks to do this and they paid those four people about 130 euro I they paid them in u.s dollars but I did the math for you so I was 175 dollars an hour which is a pretty good mid-senior hourly rate so this task cost about 62,000 euro for them to complete then second they did a pilot project that took a week so what they did is based on the model that they’ve created they went in and they got new PDFs and they piloted those new PDFs to make sure that the model actually accounted for all the things that those pdfs had had in store so that took a week custom 20 thousand euro then they did the process that I call copying and pasting so it was the restructuring process where human beings had to actually sit there go through all of those pdf’s copy and paste and restructure that content into a content management system that took them five months to do now the people who did it took them three people those people were paid a little bit less so they made a 55 euro this still custom 150,000 hero to do it and so as a result for them to get the value out of the cease to 6,000 PDFs six months eight people custom 230,000 euro in contrast they had 25,000 PDFs that they said and just punt on it let’s just migrate those over and if anybody really wants them they can get at them that process that I call shoveling took one week took one developer they paid them 130 euro costs two thousand euro to do it as a result they now have a giant dumpster of documents that are technically on the web but yet the true value of them can’t be realized because they’re all effect locked up in those pdfs and so I make this point I won’t on

we’ll leave you with this our future depends on us being able to get away from blobs and I pick on PDFs because they’re such an obvious case but the truth is our content on the web is pretty blah be like most web pages today suffer from the fact that the content is not appropriately structured and I mean structured from the modeling perspective that I take on it that we have appropriate content types and appropriate attributes attached to that content and so we have to get away from this if we’re actually going to be able to truly be platform agnostic like our future is going to depend on having the kind of structured content that will allow us to target content to different platforms or devices to know what the actual semantic meaning of that content is our future depends on finding out the zombies I mean we are today living in this veritable zombie apocalypse of new devices and platforms and screen sizes and resolutions and input mechanisms they just keep coming and they’re never going to stop and so the organizations that take this as their inflection point that take the opportunity of mobile to not just figure out how to publish to a mobile app but rather figure out what happens if tomorrow I have to publish to a watch or smart me on our smartphone screen or a smart TV or an audio interface the organizations that take that as their challenge and make their content future friendly accessible clean and presentation independent and start doing that now those are the ones that are going to survive the zombie apocalypse thank