I almost did this. Seriously. I had the form filled out and everything.
I write blog posts about how much I love content management. And what is a “Content Management Practice Director”? It’s a guy who loves content management so much that he invents his own job title.
This is why we’re talking. There’s so much more we could be doing.
The tagline for the 2013 version of this conference was poor (we minimized the tagline this year). Content is not bound to a “website.” The real tagline should be “you have a bunch of content, now what?”
I interviewed Zach Brand for this presentation. Daniel Jacobson has since left NPR.
COPE was an initialism for “Create Once Publish Anywhere.”
This article hit the CMS industry in a very bombshell-like fashion. Everyone in CMS circles was talking about it for quite a while (there are reasons for this, explained later).
Interesting that it was a “philosophy,” not a technology. COPE is platform and technology agnostic.
This an article about the return of Winnie the Pooh in the core editing interface. Notice that this interface is fairly generic. Very little (nothing?) in this interface is specific to WEB content.
This was the article on the main NPR website.
This is the article in their iPhone app.
Another iPhone app: Public Radio Addict
Yet another iPhone app.
This is the article in their Internet radio interface.
This is the article on their Boston affiliate site.
This is the article in iTunes/podcast.
This is the article in their iGoogle gadget.
COPE is not a new concept. It’s just a nice name around a concept we’ve been pursuing in various forms for decades.
Put another way: where your content comes out.
This is the traditional model that 99% of organizations use. Call this “single-channel publishing.”
Lisa Welchman has an alternate definition of “multi-channel publishing.”
This is the thing that vendors and integrators have paid lip service to for years, but no one actually did it.
This was the only channel many of us ever intended to publish to: HTML delivered via a browser.
I wrote a sidebar for “Content Everywhere” last year (great book, BTW), where I essentially called practitioners (including myself) out.
The separation of content and presentation is not a new concept. More recently that Aristole, William Tunncliffe fathered the Generic Coding movement in the late 60s which sought to separate content from presentation in what would eventually become SGML.
I wrote this article in April 2009 (pre-dating the original COPE article by six months) where I pointed out that content management has gotten too web-centric.
Social media was really the thing that pushed us into other channels. LinkedIn started in 2003, Facebook in 2004, and Twitter in 2005. These services gathered steamed for 2-4 years, and by 2007-2008, organizations were expected to have presences on these services and were pushing content into them on a regular basis.
When 2009 rolled around, organizations were experiencing legitimate pain juggling content in multiple channels.
At a minimum, this is where a lot of organizations were at: how do you we push content into our website, Facebook, and Twitter gracefully?
COPE showed us that someone had done it well. What we hoped was possibly actually existing. This is why it tickled the collective imaginations of the content management industry.
This is the control room for a nuclear power plant. There are 72 screens in this image. It represents how we envision managing out content – a master view with complete control.
People love dashboards. They give the illusion of control.
Content editors are scared. We’re afraid of what the future might bring. (The animation of this slide likely doesn’t work in other contexts – it’s a bunch of scared cats.)
This is animated GIF of a cat jumping off the hood of a car when the windshield wiper starts. Again, a reference to content editors being scared of what the future might bring for their content.
An animated GIF of a dog tripping over a ball, for no particular reason.
“Click here” doesn’t mean anything outside the web. This content will have trouble adapting.
This is what happens when you try to use web content directly in other mediums.
Another example of what happens when you try to use web content directly in other mediums.
If this content depends on changing the font in the headline, then you will have a problem if you try to push into a channel which doesn’t support that.
Vendors are actively trying to address “the preview problem.” This is a screencap from EPiServer, a web CMS, this is a page in the “standard” channel… (cont. on next slide)
…and this is the preview in an “iPhone vertical.”
When you’re done with content, it might be of value to call someone on the phone and read it to them, in an effort to strip away all the visual formatting from it. (Although, now you introduce “audio formatting,” which opens up an entirely new set of problems.)
We hope that content will go directly from our repository into our channels, unaltered.
In reality, channels impose limitations, and content often has to be reformatted (“rendered”) for those channels. We call these “renditions.”
Notice the two types of teasers. Neither would appear together in any channel – a channel would use one or the other, in an attempt to render the content in an appropriate manner to fit into that channel.
You end up with “core” content, and multiple renditions surrounding it.
Cropping content is a human-centric process. A human has to look at this image and decide how best to crop it to make sense. This can’t be done automatically.
Try creating content to fit these two channels.
This is referring to TRUE omni-channel content. Content that can go into ANY channel with no modifications. Content like this would be so generic and simple as to essentially be worthless.
There’s a theoretical mindshift, and a set of technical imperatives.
Our priorities have been misplaced for years. We’ve concentrated too much on the channel, and not enough on the message.
Remember Aristotle? He loved the message first (logos), the channel second (lexis).
This is an overstatement. But the spirit is true.
This is our message, in it’s purest form, devoid of formatting or channel.
This is the web page we use to transmit our message. Sadly, this is usually what we think of INSTEAD of our message.
These are all the channels I came up with in 60 seconds. There are even future channels we haven’t thought of yet (a la “Minority Report” where they beamed ads right into Tom Cruise’s head). Sadly, we tend to tune out all channels except the web page.
We tend to look at web pages like this – a single conceptual unit.
In reality, web pages are a combination of smaller elements.
In 10 seconds, I broke an IBM press release down into pieces which can be select and re-used.
You want to turn your content into a salad bar – separate units that can be selected and combined to form new things and to work in and around someone dietary needs and taste preferences.
This is what happens when you try to use web content directly in other mediums.
This service allows you to connect systems together, from the outside. It operates on triggers – something happens on System A, and this does something on System B.
An example “recipe.” Then someone new appears in an RSS feed, post it to our Facebook page.
An example of how it works.
Zapier is a industrial-strength version of “If This Then That.” It integrates hundreds of apps, essentially connecting them together in arbitrary ways.
Huginn installs in your organization, behind-your-firewall, and performs content integration tasks for you.
Dynamic PDF generation has come a long way. It’s not hard to push your content into print channels. Kindle Direct Publishing is releasing an API later this year that will let you update your ebook directly in Amazon’s store without any manual work.
Kapow makes a screen-scraping system that can capture your web content directly from the “public” face of your website without making changes. You can then re-combine this content into new forms.
This should be our rallying cry.
Content managers should have the nerdiest protest ever.
This is only half in jest. Structure, Purity, and Integration = Freedom
COPEing Mechanisms: The Peril and Promise of Create Once, Publish Everywhere
Will your editors know and
understand all the different
channels where their content
might be published?
Can your editors abstract
themselves away from the
presentational specifics of a
Is it possible to mass produce
content without thinking about
where it will be presented?
“The problem is this: The question content
people ask when finishing adding content to a
CMS is „how does this look?‟. And this is not a
question a CMS can answer any more – even
with a preview. How we use the web today has
meant that the answer to that questions is, „in