Content On Demand

May 01, 2007


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BEST PRACTICES SERIES

April was a busy month for content management trade shows, each bigger than the one before, and each with an emphasis on multilingual content.

It began with JoAnn Hackos' Content Management Strategies conference combined with DITA North America 2007. The strategic importance of DITA single-source publishing as a path to lower translation costs was emphasized by all the vendors in the exhibit area, including SDL International, PTC Arbortext, AuthorIT, Idiom Technologies, Justsystems XMetaL, and DocZone, the new web-based XML solution that incorporates translation memory done as a web service.

Then came Frank Gilbane's Content Management Technologies Conference, alongside the Content Management Professionals Summit and a two-day LISA Forum. LISA is the Localization Industry Standards Association and multilingual content was ubiquitous. A small Content Globalization Pavilion was anchored by Idiom Technologies.

The month ended with the granddaddy of CM shows by AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management Association as they now call themselves. It was held in conjunction with the On Demand Conference, covering the automated print publishing industry.

Content On Demand
AIIM/On Demand was held at the brand new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. It sits atop the now covered trench through South Boston which was the Big Dig, just across from the old World Trade Center. Among the many new tunnels under Boston, there is one for the new Silverline, a high-technology bus service that runs diesel on city streets and then converts to overhead electric power as it enters the tunnel. I rode the Red Line from Harvard Square in Cambridge, changed to Silverline at South Station, and emerged at Boston's World Trade Center in just 25 minutes.

There I got to meet face-to-face with two colleagues at EContent, fellow contributing editor Ron Miller and editorial assistant Jared Bernstein. In this networked world, we have worked together for years without ever shaking hands.

AIIM too featured content translation at a pavilion hosted by GALA, the Globalization and Localization Association. Idiom was again prominent, announcing partnerships with Vistatec in Ireland and Clay Tablet in Canada. A German firm, across, showed a web-based suite of integrated authoring, translating, and publishing tools that is rapidly gaining market share in Europe.

Andy Singleton of Assembla (a firm that assembles project teams around the globe using web-based tools) observed that the future would be dominated by three O's: Online, Open-source, and Offshore. His three-O's theme was picked up by Forrester Research, but to Andy's three O's we would add another O highlighted by this month's three CM shows--On Demand.

Digital content delivery models are targeted today at instant gratification for content consumers, and in living color with motion and sound. Our news and entertainment are now increasingly online. I can see Google News in my Google Office Online (where I am writing this story), tailored to my interests. My TiVo lets me watch only the television news I want and when I want it. I can download movies from AppleTV (if I didn't get them into my Netflix queue on time).

Can the print industry compete?

Print Demands
At the On Demand Conference I saw the publishing industry (and remember that EContent is still primarily a print magazine) moving to personalized, one-to-one content as it tries to make itself over as a communications business.

Every morning in my subway car I saw today's news in full color from Metro, a free tabloid, then at the conference saw the high-volume, full-color digital presses that are making it all possible.

I saw huge digital presses from IBM, Océ, and Xerox, both sheet-fed and fed by continuous rolls of paper, some using dry laser toner technology, some liquid ink jet, all rivaling the quality of traditional offset printing. The room size HP Indigo Press is the largest ink-jet printer from the company that makes more printers than anyone else in the world. And just like your desktop printer, this digital press is driven by Adobe InDesign and Quark Xpress software.

That means the revolution is not just for content publishers, it's for content creators too.

In the words of A.J. Liebling, "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own them," and you know how liberating your desktop publishing tools and affordable color printers can be.

Now imagine book publishing on demand with new web-to-print services, for example from Lulu, the brainchild of Bob Young, founder of Red Hat Linux. I saw connected machines that print, collate, and perfect bind up to 600 pages in a beautiful full-color cover. Lulu lets you create a book from your PDF output submitted online, in quantities as small as one!

This on-demand printing has spawned an exploding industry of "photo books." Hundreds of millions of people carrying digital cameras are now able to assemble their best images and add explanatory text and credits to create a stunning coffee table decoration. Wedding photographers are replacing photo albums with short runs of photo books for all the family.

CMS vendors promise to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. At AIIM/On Demand I saw the print publishing industry is ready to deliver on that promise.