Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Back in the pre-dawn age of electronic publishing, when one of the greatest challenges was how to convert the literal mountains of legacy paper documentation* into electronic storage (Any type of electronic storage – standards weren’t even a twinkle in the industry’s proverbial eye at that point.), I worked on a marketing campaign for a new conversion bureau service.

For the campaign’s central messaging image we selected a photo library montage that showed a ship’s life belt floating on a sea of paper.

That image stayed with me and it’s one I've referenced over the years when doing consulting work, or preparing papers for conferences.

The idea of us living in a “sea of information” is far from being a new one. The fact that we are all drowning under the amount of information currently available is a well acknowledged problem, not only in business, but also in our personal lives as well. The challenge of navigating that sea can be overwhelming. Many people just choose to ignore it, other’s make valiant attempts to, but soon drift off course.

A few years ago it struck me that the answer was not to consider all the information as a large continuous sea, but to look at it in terms of distinct separate pools of content. A pool isn’t so daunting. A pool is something we swim in for pleasure. We can easily transfer, or even share the content between pools using a bucket.

If we replace the water in the pool with the content we generate, then the bucket becomes exchange standards. The task of using the content becomes one that can be mapped, navigated and understood.

In upcoming posts I’ll expand on some of the ideas I’ve developed for establishing strategies for swimming in The Content Pool.

[* In the late 1980s I managed a large publications shop for a major aerospace company and employed two people full time as departmental librarians just to manage the amount of paper we produced. – We also had to strengthen the floor of the building!]

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