Content Everywhere by Sara Wachter-Boettcher

ContentEverywhereCon­tent Every­where by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
intro­duces the cas­ual end-user or first time con­tent man­ager to struc­tured web con­tent and provides a quick course in the con­nec­tion for how things are stored and how they can be deployed. It is very famil­iar in tone and the author presents a poten­tially deep and intric­ate topic (one that simply dares dis­trac­tion) in a logical manner.The vari­ous sec­tions build from a case under­ly­ing the need for struc­tur­ing and sim­pli­fy­ing web con­tent to meth­ods to struc­ture and encode to the vari­ous pro­cesses that aid in its deploy­ment to the web. Simple and logical. Much of the tone is informal and some­times the prose comes across as being a bit of a booster ses­sion to get the crowd behind the home team. At times as well, the ref­er­ences to other authors and works gives the volume a bit of an aca­demic feel. How­ever, this may well be pos­it­ive for many and only troub­ling for a few. For me it ini­tially felt like a little bit of nudging inside a clique — but it is sub­stan­ti­ation for the need and the pro­cess pro­posed and makes for a well reasoned, and sys­tem­at­ic­ally com­pel­ling approach. I know I am being some­what even handed here, but I found myself at two minds as I was read­ing the book.


This volume should not be mis­taken for a hands-on, case driven learn­ing manual. It seems more inten­ded to demon­strate the philo­soph­ical under­pin­nings and get the use think­ing about the whys and where­fores of the task at hand than pro­pos­ing spe­cific ways to tackle the pro­cess of con­tent deploy­ment. The pro­cess pro­posed is a solid one and I don’t mean for my cri­tique to sound less than pos­it­ive. Know your con­tent –> con­sider your audi­ence –> allow for the unanti­cip­ated –> and stick with the stand­ards. All won­der­ful remind­ers and cer­tainly rein­for­cing best prac­tice. In many instances as well, Wachter-Boettcher provides a very clean and con­cise explor­a­tion of the par­tic­u­lar lan­guage sur­round­ing struc­tured con­tent. This is par­tic­u­larly valu­able for those work­ing as part of groups and need­ing to com­mu­nic­ate with col­leagues tasked with dif­fer­ent parts of the con­tent deploy­ment pro­cess. Get­ting up to speed rap­idly with the finer parts of con­tent struc­tur­ing, being able to ask the right ques­tions and do so using the appro­pri­ate terms is per­fectly suited for the audi­ence of this book. I am a huge fan of mak­ing sure you invest the time in advance of the pro­ject with get­ting a feel for what you are facing. Tak­ing the time to turn a fund­ing pro­posal into a true pro­ject plan has been a con­stant man­tra of mine for the past dec­ade. All too often its a skipped step and the cost in the end can be very high. Learn­ing about how to con­tent model and work with spe­cial­ists in inform­a­tion archi­tec­ture for example is valu­able in any guise.

There is much to praise in this book. It cov­ers a wide swathe of inform­a­tion man­age­ment bey­ond purely con­tent man­age­ment and the treat­ment is if largely inten­ded to be an over­view — a very thor­ough one and the ref­er­ences to oth­ers work and the inter­jec­tion of use cases (Q&As with a vari­ety of prac­ti­tion­ers) are good point­ers for where to go for deeper inform­a­tion. The prose as men­tioned is very approach­able and the author likes her puns and play­ful turns of phrase — ‘the semantics of semantics’, or ‘the low­down on mark down’ to throw a couple at you. The volume is well illus­trated, both with cus­tom graph­ics to give it a lively feel and with screen shots and dia­grams that do help to illus­trate con­cepts and cases being dis­cussed. I like the look and feel of the book. It’s friendly and fun and approaches a dry topic in an enga­ging fash­ion. The author makes a strong case for struc­tured con­tent for greater reusab­il­ity and this book will suit any­one who wants to read and absorb con­tent to get up to speed. It will not suit those that like a hands-on series of exer­cises or look for an eas­ily scan­nable ref­er­ence book to fall back on when facing a spe­cific prob­lem. This is as I men­tioned a short course to bring one up to speed with con­tent man­age­ment best prac­tises. In that it suc­ceeds admir­ably and if this style suits you you have found your friend. 200 pages or so of great mes­sages, pithy thoughts, use­ful ref­er­ences to use cases and all well and thought­fully presented.

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