I just started reading a book last week called “Content […]

I just started reading a book last week called “Content Critical,” by Gerry McGovern. Its main focus is on why organizations need to adopt standards for “publishing” their content to the Web.

What does this book have to do with creativity and innovation? Here’s the connection: In the beginning of the book, McGovern explains that the original intent of the World Wide Web was to enable researchers at academic institutions to share their ideas and collaborate more effectively. The early, text-based Web filled this role admirably.

Now that almost anyone can create and publish Web pages, we seem to have lost sight of that early, innovative vision. The Web has become filled with billions of documents, many of questionable quality, because few people know how to effectively create, publish and manage content. Many corporate Web sites and intranets contain a pile of documents that may be too lengthy, poorly organized or written or out of date. In addition, many of these documents were published without adequate metadata — keywords that describe what each document contains — which means it takes longer for customers, employees and other key audiences to search for them, if they can find these documents at all. The result is that a poorly organized and maintained Web site can actually impede the transfer of knowledge and ideas. Further, it can frustrate customers and prospects, who will naturally gravitate toward the competitor with the best organized content.

This isn’t just some esoteric, academic problem. In today’s information-based economy, content already plays a pervasive role in many businesses. Visitors come to your organization’s Web site to read about its products and services, obtain product support information and to learn why they should do business with you. Your employees may use online content (on an intranet) to get training, share information and collaborate on projects. The bottom line, according to McGovern, is that those companies that have the best systems for publishing clear, concise and customer-focused content will have a significant competitive advantage.

I haven’t gotten far enough into the book to learn a what steps or standards McGovern recommends for publishing to the Web more effectively, but I’m sure it will be very interesting!