It seems to me that the field of structured content (metadata, content management, and information architecture) is probably the next major frontier for the editorially inclined. After all, writers and editors do what we do because we have an innate grasp for identifying, juxtaposing, organizing, presenting, and reusing information to maximum effect. “Content intuition” is our core talent.
Also, moving in this direction may be a matter of long-term survival. Let’s face it traditional writing and editing skills, while crucial, will probably never be valued in the professional world as much as they deserve….
Currently, most companies and organizations fail to recognize how badly their content needs the ministrations of skilled content professionals. Usually, when companies and organizations (aside from the publishing industry) have money to spend on content, it’s more likely those dollars will go toward content-related technology, design, or hiring pedigreed topical experts regardless of writing ability.
In the past, it’s discouraged me to see technology and design routinely being valued above basic content quality and planning. However, now that I’ve learned more about how the field and theory of content and information (knowledge) management are evolving, I’m seeing a major opportunity taking shape for my content colleagues.
…I’ll be writing much more later on this theme. But for now, here are a few basic resources that I recommend to any writer or editor who grasps my message here and thinks I may be onto something:
- UPDATE JUNE 23, 2004: Developing and Creatively Leveraging Hierarchical Metadata and Taxonomy, by Christian Ricci, May 23, 2004, Boxes and Arrows. (Read my review of this article.)
- Content Management: Our Organized Future. ELearnSpace, Jan. 23, 2003, by George Siemens
- Information Architecture for the Rest of Us. WebWord, Jan. 15, 2002, by John S. Rhodes
- This plain-language brief metadata primer, by Tanya Rabourn. June 2002, New Breed Librarian.
- Weblog Kitchen published a clear, concise metadata backgrounder
- XML, metaphorically speaking. August 05, 2003, in Ben Hammersley’s Dangerous Precedent
It’s time to embrace namespace, my fellow writers and editors. I suspect we may have a leading role to play there. As Ben Hammersley says in the last resource I recommended above:
“…To me, namespaces are the only concept in XML that can be compared to prose or poetry at all. In fact, to me, it’s the concept of namespaces that elevates XML from a rough text envelope for data to a thing of beauty and structure.”