Yesterday at DrupalCon I saw Karen McGrane speak for the first time. Karen is a respected content strategist and frequent keynote speaker. She's fantastic, and I was thrilled to see her speak live for the first time.
The main point made during Karen’s keynote is that we need to think differently when thinking about digital content. Legacy processes designed for print publishing shaped much of the way we work today in a CMS. This in turn has shaped how CMS products have evolved. Here’s how Karen puts it:
So I really believe, guys, that we are in a war of Blobs versus Chunks. We are in a war between giant, unstructured blobs of content, and clean, well-structured fields of content that have metadata attached. We are in a war of Blobs versus Chunks. You all are on Team Chunk. We cannot let the blobs win.
The idea is that Content Management Systems need to manage content fragments that are well described by metadata. By doing this, you can ensure that your content can be appropriately rendered in any format on any device. It’s the best way to future-proof your content, because we simply cant predict the devices of the future. Google Glass? iWatch?
(By the way, Karen called Google Glass the Segway of Mobile. GENIUS!)
The problem is that users often demand to work in the traditional desktop publishing paradigm, where content and design are intertwined. Make the content authoring experience just like Microsoft Word and the users will be happy. CMS authors prefer using the WYSIWYG editor and big blobs of HTML, because they can format and markup content while having some control of the layout. But by doing this, the content becomes impossible to repurpose and re-imagine in other ways.
Karen argues that content must be separated from form, the key to future-proofing your content strategy. Karen is the self-proclaimed “president of the WYSIWYG haters club”. The problem is that the WYSIWYG mentality forces uses to think about the page as the container, just like the in desktop publishing world. But in the digital world, the page is just one container. Your content is likely going to be consumed in all sorts of ways, in all sorts of formats, and all different types of devices.