EC100 Introduction & Category Descriptions

Article ImageWelcome to the seventh annual EContent 100—our list of companies that matter most in the digital content industry.

It seems like the whole world is creating, tagging, and delivering content these days. Once the domain of trained professionals, content is now everybody’s business. In many ways, the general public leads the publishing industry in its comfort with, and usage of, digital content tools—from blogs to podcasts to wikis.

However, this does not make these consumer-only tools. Those of us in the industry well know we need to tap into the iterative process that characterizes Web 2.0—which means we need to play on the same field, using many of the same toys and tactics.

For us at EContent, that can blur the lines between professional and consumer, but in a way it simply reflects the digital content continuum, with a fluid nature that makes content difficult to control, yet imbues it with limitless possibilities.

Indeed, today our industry cannot be focused on control, but rather on fueling possibility. As we once feared the cannibalization of print revenue by digital distribution, we now face the rise of the empowered user as content creator. Will we suffer inertia while questioning our value? Or will we evolve, continuing to demonstrate that content professionals deliver high-value information—be it created by professional writers, end users, customers, or CEOs?

The EContent 100 list represents the best and the brightest digital content companies as selected by a dozen judges who follow different aspects of our vast and varied industry—from vantage points all over the map (literally and figuratively). We offer this list not just to recognize companies that lead our industry, but to inspire organizations of all kinds to join in the content conversation online.

Our judges spent more than a month reconsidering last year’s 100 and vetting new contenders, collaborating in a Socialtext wiki. The process is always a challenging one, but the rewards are great. Each year we are reinvigorated about our industry, from the continued prowess of some of the industry’s inveterate leaders to the renewed vigor of others to the startling innovation of the newcomers.

While we can’t invite all of you to participate in the process, we are pleased to present you with the results. We welcome your feedback and are excited to see what you do with the tools in the year to come.

—Michelle Manafy
Editor-in-chief, EContent

2007 EContent 100 Categories

Classification & Taxonomy
Taxonomy is one of those words that just sound hard. Well, it is. But the good news is that it is simply a way of classifying things. When it comes to classifying content, tools range from auto-categorization algorithms to pre-packaged taxonomies, and find themselves woven into many other content categories, from services to search. All to make it easier to find what you need exactly when you need it.

Everyone knows they should play well with others. But frankly, that’s tough enough for a lot of folks. Now when those others span the globe and never meet, things get a whole lot more complicated. Collaboration tools enable teamwork, web-style, which emphasizes shared knowledge and member-contribution, regardless of proximity.

Content Commerce
Grease must be applied to the wheels of commerce lest they squeak—nay, grind—to a halt. When what is being bought and sold is measured in bits and bytes, solutions that enable the buying and selling of digital content are there to keep the transactions humming smoothly along.

Content Creation, Production, and Digital Publishing
Formerly the purview of the privileged few with access to a printing press, creating content is everyone’s business today. Luckily, tools keep cropping up that help us make it, convert it, use it, and—most importantly—reuse it in ways as varied as the people creating the content in the first place.

Content Delivery
The paperboy may never get the daily news onto your porch, but you can count on the digital delivery infrastructure and tools to help all the news that’s fit to, uh, print find its way to you: online, in your inbox, or in line at the grocery store.

Content Management
CM and its kin—ECM, WCM, DAM, MAM, TCM, and so on—are the darlings of technology acronyms. CM’s predecessors, document management and knowledge management, along with new buddies like globalization and localization tools, nip at its heels as it leads the pack as the end-all and do-all for managing today’s amorphous information masses. Yet while content management purports to be all things to all people, its true power may actually lie in its flexibility to change shape to fit each new business problem set before it.

Content Security
Over and above the trafficking in entertainment, business, and academic content, our very identities are being transacted online. Thus, beyond digital rights management tools (which guard our content like bouncers at the backstage door), we must have tools that bring a more subtle approach to the nuances of corporate content, which is also in need of safekeeping.

Fee-Based Info Services
While many say, “the web wants to be free,” or at least that most people want their content to bear that price tag, another old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Gutenberg-era dinosaurs and social media whippersnappers alike vie for information-seeking dollars by flexing the power packed in the “e” of econtent.

Intranets & Portals
Infusing organizations with an internal knowledge and information hub might not be as hot as portals that purport to proffer every piece of content on a given subject. Yet intranets—despite their un-sexy image—bear many similarities to their more outgoing cousins. So it goes that these unlikely kin share some powerful tools and technologies to suffuse content in and outside the enterprise.

Mobile Content
These days, content gets around. See all those cell phones? Yep, people are doing a lot more than talking on them today: From stock tickers to subscription services and web research to mini-movies, content has got places to go and people that want to see.

Search Engines & Technologies
There’s a lot more to searching than the G-word. Be it through algorithms, bots, spiders, metatext, and more, people are using more than single- keyword searches to find ever-more-targeted information on the web or behind the firewall.

Social Media
While many bemoan the erosion of human interaction in the wake of the internet age, still others extol the virtues of the extension of community to all corners of the globe—if only virtually. Yet, without a doubt, the web has opened up a world of opportunity for readers to become the writers, reviewers, and producers. Here we look at the tools that help proliferate the vox populi.

Click here to read about the EContent 100 Judging Team.
Click here to see the 2007 EContent 100 List.

[Click Here to see all previous EContent 100 Lists]