- File Size: 505 KB
- Print Length: 138 pages
- Publisher: XML Press; 1 edition (February 15, 2014)
- Publication Date: February 27, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00I8UDJFW
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#834,628 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
- #158 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Reference > Writing, Research & Publishing Guides > Technical
- #261 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Computers & Technology > Tech Culture & Computer Literacy > Social Aspects
- #444 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Money > Industries > Information Management
|Digital List Price:||$16.95|
|Print List Price:||$19.95|
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The Language of Content Strategy Kindle Edition
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The title is clear about what this book is about: the language of content strategy. I appreciated the lexicon, and it made me wish this were part of a series, similar to A Very Short Introduction books. The Language of UX. The Language of IA.
I find that lexicons do more than define terms for us. In general, these collections function as overviews of a discipline. They explicitly state what matters to the discipline, and they also imply what matters to the discipline simply by the topics included and how those topics are defined. (Lexicons can also shed light on the discipline's history and can be fun for amateur etymologists.)
This book is a comprehensive overview of content strategy. As someone who has practiced some content strategy, I liked seeing where that work is situated. I liked that my work was defined by industry-standard terminology, and I found an appropriate way to talk about what I most like about content strategy - inventories, analysis, semantics, and taxonomies, and the editorial side rather than technical side (instead of "liking words and not code"). After reading this book, readers can be confident that they share a common language with practitioners, so hesitate to engage no more.
This lexicon lets you know what's important. Behind the scenes: repeatable, reusable, automated, and structured. For the consumer: personalized in every way - accessible, adaptive, translated, and localized as well as appropriate for grade level, device, location, and situation. "The right content, to the right audience, anytime, anywhere, on any device." (Abel)
Consider these words: architecture, engineering, matrix, model, optimization, and system. And these: analysis, audit, inventory, lifecycle, management, quality assurance, scorecard, and strategy. They're not necessarily the words you associate with content, but they are the language of content strategy.
Other things I liked:
-- I was able to construct workflows from the entries, such as: content brief -> requirements matrix -> content inventory -> content audit -> content analysis -> content matrix
-- Topic structure and layout design. The topics answer (formatted as headings): What is it? Why is it important? Why does a content strategist need to know this? The layout ensures that the start of the topic is a verso and the completion of the topic is a recto, so the topic is uninterrupted by page turning.
-- Colophon (too long to quote). The creation of the book mimics the best practices outlined in the lexicon.
Some things I wasn't crazy about:
-- I wonder whether the layout was a self-imposed constraint on the presentation of information. In a book about content best practices, why are you describing a visual to me instead of showing an image? In other topics, I would have benefited from a visual example. If the layout is a concern, images could be part of an appendix, although that's not ideal. If the genre of lexicon is a concern, remember that dictionaries have pictures.
-- Some topics were too vague. It's as if you need to know the topic to understand its definition, but if you know it, you don't need the definition.
-- Where topics are similar, it would have been nice to know how they differ or how they relate to each other, for example, structured content and modular content. Maybe it's obvious to people already working with structured and modular content. (It could be compared to synonyms in a dictionary.) Sometimes these relationships were defined, which is why I was able to create workflow diagrams.
-- The book includes 52 topics written by 52 content strategists, which makes me wonder if 52 is a marketing gimmick for the website or if it's a coincidence that the important content strategy terms are exactly 52 in number. (And I know you have to stop somewhere.)
-- Perhaps out of scope (encyclopedia instead of dictionary), but metrics were mentioned several times. Perhaps one sample metric could have been included to better understand how the topic subject can be measured.
-- Some topics repeated the "what is it text" in the "why you need to know" text. And "why it's important" is really "why you need to know" - because it's important.
-- Some topics were too general and would have been enriched by examples.
-- Some topics didn't answer the heading questions appropriately.
The best topics explain how the deliverable/technology/analysis is used, what it captures, the results/benefits of using it, and some of the gaps created by not using it.
-- Sarah Beckley's "Content Matrix," Laura Creekmore's "Metadata," Don Day's "Structured Content," Leigh White's "Single Sourcing," and Claudia Wunder's "Information Architecture" are overall good examples.
-- Robert Glushko's "Document Engineering" uses an effective, real-world example of taxes to illustrate the difference between narrative and transactional types.
-- Char James-Tanny's "Accessibility" and Lisa L. Trager's "Search Engine Optimization" provide comprehensive lists of best practices.
-- Sarah O'Keefe's "XML" highlights several benefits and offers an applied example.
-- Bill Swallow's "Globalization" offers advice: "it is best to work backwards."
-- Lori Thicke's "Translation" includes data to support a business case for translation.
-- Sharon Burton's "Folksonomy" and Kathy Wagner's "Content Scorecard" include how-to information. Burton also uses a good Amazon example to illustrate her topic.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and I use it only to illustrate some of the nice touches of particular topics.
I agree with other reviewers that the book is very well written. I recognize many of the contributors as people at the top of their field, so I expect them to be able to articulate their subject clearly. It's also a nifty marketing device to include information about each contributor in each section. So in that regard, the book is a useful reference and can be a quick read. I also salute the editors for pulling together so many related terms, many of which have significant overlap, in a way that clarifies rather than muddies the subject.
On the negative side, even though the book is well written, I found it to be dry. The very nature of the book, one page per concept, prevents the contributors from going into any details or using practical examples of why a particular element of content strategy is useful. There are some examples in some sections, but I found myself wanting more. I would have liked it better if each section was a little bit longer so that it could include a section on practical application, because that's the interesting part for me.