Creating Digital Content: What is It?

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Digital content includes the words, pictures/images and videos that we traditionally think about. But it also includes other things that haven’t always been traditionally at the forefront of content – it includes understanding how different technologies consume and display content, how that content needs to be architected to be able to be displayed and to be found, and how users want to consume that content based on devices and technology platforms.

Woah! Does that mean content is no longer king?

I fundamentally believe that content is king. But content can no longer drive other things – like layouts and designs and how it is consumed. WHAT???? (all the content people are freaking out right now).

So fundamentally – digital content is any content that exists in the form of data. But creating digital content has taken on some new meanings.

Some History

I’m not a know it all. In fact, I think that any one who wants to be considered digital can’t be a know it all. The space evolves way to fast for anyone to be an expert. I would actually consider myself a generalist, because as the space has evolved its driven deep subject matter expertise in things like content, analytics, AI/ML, voice, IoT etc. So I know a little about a lot of things and look for those who know a lot about minimal things to know that I’ve found a great partner. So for these reasons, this is a brief digital content history.

In traditional content, it was the content that drove the design and layout of pages. It did even in the first iteration of websites. To some degree it still drives some website or larger screened experiences.

There was the initial launch of the website. It could have some text and animated GIFs and maybe some photos. There was the abysmal digital magazine (gosh remember that?) – where we tried so hard to take an actual magazine and put it online. We calmed down and at some point were like “hey, let’s just PDF the darn things and put it up on the site.”

I recall the launch of parallax websites – because it was a way for imagery to be the true driver of the experience rather than the words. It was revolutionary and it was beautiful. Parallax websites were revolutionary because it got digital content out of this box that we were all stuck in, and closer to that magazine like experience we were hoping for online.

Then we realized content needed to be found and devices began to rapidly change and social media launched. Content as king became even more apparent, but what did change dramatically was how content’s ability to drive design took a massive shift.

The change

Devices and technology began to drive layout and design and content design was now required to take somewhat of a back set.

If you don’t agree with me, it probably means you didn’t make the leap to what digital leaders are looking for when they are hiring. Just saying.

Here are some very real examples:

Remember flash? Well that has been a slow and agonizing death (yes, it’s still dying) – but what was most frightful for content creators when this became a reality at the time, was the basic ability to play videos and be able to view animation online. HTML5 jumped into be the saviour in this situation, but the truth was the death of flash was driven by technology and device changes. Video content was not at the forefront of that decision making. (The rivalry between Apple and Adobe also probably played a part in this – and the fact that iPhones weren’t going to support flash – but whatevs).

In 2005 YouTube launched and in 2007 the iPhone launched. Maybe a coinky dink – maybe market stressors provided ample opportunity to solve for the flash crisis. Whatever it meant – video content consumption changed. What it needed to be viewed changed. What it needed to be found changed. Decisions on using your own player or a social player changed. Whatever decision was made was driven by the technology changes and device changes and therefore meant that the content couldn’t drive the design.

Not true say you? I say try making a video that is longer than 45 seconds and see where you net out with that.

Usability changed as a result, and many content creators began to realize that social channels dedicated to videos were a better place to play than prop technology, because it made finding their content easier and it was where people who wanted to watch videos were. It was where they realized that they could try to make that 5 minute video all they wanted, but the costs and the consumption wasn’t really working out.

Twitter drove us to the 140 character limit – though newly expanded to 280. As it turns out, Twitter’s decision to extend the character limit on tweets has done little to change how people use the service. So um yeah – what was that about content driving design?


Realistically speaking, do you think that based on the size of your watch screen and it’s underlying technology that it is content that dictates what get’s displayed? I would argue… not really. However, I would also take it one step further and argue – how users use it and what they want to consume will have huge influence in driving design.

Welcome UX and IA teams.

We have screens on watches on fridges in cars and this is going to continue to evolve. What we are going to see, is an evolution in what ends up being the simplest way for content to be consumed unilaterally by all of these things. We are going to continue to push the concept of “publish once and be everywhere”, for cost reasons: companies don’t have limitless buckets of money to hire 8 million specialized resources because we have 8 million ways to display; for logical reasons: why do we need to do this 8 million times in 8 million ways; and for future reasons: things are moving to voice which means content is going to be forced to do different things online, and with the rise of AI and ML content is going to be shaped and designed at times without human intervention.

Because of all of the above – content cannot drive design.

However, though it cannot drive design it still is king. So fundamentally it does mean that you need to be better at creating compelling, unique content. It also means that you need digital content specialists (IA/UX/SEO/digital copy writers) to help you prep your content for digital consumption and to meet new legal accessibility requirements (otherwise you should probably just publish paper copies).

And while I make no claims in being a digital expert, I do know this – if you want to show digital professionals that you have evolved past paper thinking… it means that you need to know how to make content king when it no longer drives design. It means you understand that how it is consumed will be dependent on how the device and therefore the underlying technologies flexibility in its UI exist.

Help Support Movember

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Hi all – I know that it’s been a while.  Yes, my last post was in July 2015, but I swear I have a good reason!  I started my Executive MBA in August, and let’s just say things have been super intense trying to juggle a full time job, a new marriage and a number of other things I have on the go.

That said, this was definitely important and necessary to post. One that I have no trouble in taking a moment to draw some attention too. Men – prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide, with more than 1.1 million cases recorded in 2012.

I know that some of the mustaches out there are scary, but that stat is even more frightening.  For the love of all the men out there, please get your check ups in, and know the signs to look for.  If you are not sure, you can learn more here: Movember Canada.

You can help my colleague Jared  reach his goal of $1000 here: Jared’s page. Besides – look at that selfie and that very serious ‘stash – how could you not?

Here’s what local governments care about when it comes to connected cities

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Being connected to the world around us has taken on a different meaning in the age of Big Data. People connect more and more with their technology at times, than they do with actually real people.

I’m working in a time where as a manager, there are coaching opportunities that exist with millennials, because they don’t talk to people on the phone. E-mails back and forth escalate issues, rather than talking them through face to face.

Nonetheless there are efficiencies and conveniences to be had by sharing data. Part of that is connecting to our cities. This is a good read:

Now There’s a Barbie of Ava DuVernay

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I have been a Barbie fan despite all of the controversy that they have garnered over the years. For those that know me, know that I didn’t find it offensive if someone referred to me being Barbie like.

In high school they called me the brown Barbie doll. Some may have found that offensive, but I didn’t take it that way. I was tiny, loved dressing up and playing with make-up. I also happened to be an honour roll student, head of our debating team and head of our cheer leading team.

I was tiny and fierce. I still think that I am today LOL.

I love the new slant of finding a more comprehensive way to idealize women based on real people who are doing amazing things – especially women who break glass ceilings. I’d like to consider myself one of those women.

BlackBerry Ltd working with Google Inc to secure Android devices

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I loved blackberry. When it came out, I was so addicted. My first blackberry was a pink blackberry pearl. I didn’t know how I had ever lived without a phone like this before. It did everything I needed it too, and while I wasn’t overly pleased with having to add a data package for the first time, BBM changed my life. I couldn’t understand why anyone would ever text at all.

I was a staunch blackberry supporter and refused to support Apple products. I am Canadian, and I was going to support a Canadian over American company any day!
Being Canadian, we didn’t have a Silicon Valley so to speak, but Waterloo, Ontario became the place to be. Blackberry offered flexible working situations for its employees allowing work from homes most of the time and on the odd occasion coming into the office.

I applied for a community manager role, and went through 3 interviews. I was so thrilled, and with the career path I had chosen, it would have meant everything to me to work at Blackberry.

I was offered the role with Rogers Digital Media which I ended up taking after also being offered a position with Telus. I questioned my decision at the time, and wondered if walking away from Blackberry was the right decision for my career.

Little did I know, that shortly after that Blackberry would start unhinging. I held on to my blackberry at all costs. Eventually however, I couldn’t deny where things were shifting and I gave in to an iPhone and iPad.

I hope that this strategic move from Blackberry, can help a Canadian legend closer to the global tech giant they once were.

Financial Post

Waterloo-based Blackberry Ltd. has forged a partnership with Google Inc.’s new Android for Work service, enabling cross-platform business enterprise on BlackBerry devices, according to an announcement on Wednesday.

As BlackBerry’s market share continues to dwindle – 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2014 – the company has shifted its approach to competitors, most notably Google’s Android operating system, allowing Android apps to run on the company’s BlackBerry 10 platform. With the latest version of BlackBerry’s operating system (10.3.1), many Android applications are now accessible directly through BB10’s Amazon Appstore app, although a number of them suffer from compatibility issues.

BlackBerry also created a partnership with Samsung late last year that brought the company’s popular BES 12 enterprise mobile device management software to Samsung Android devices.

“I am not afraid of competing when I know I am more nimble. I never think [that] going alone is the right strategy. But we have a value add that…

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6 Canadians among final 100 up for one-way trip to Mars

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I just had to re-post this blog because as Canadian how could you not be fascinated by other Canadians who are brave enough to risk their lives for the rest of mankind?

Maybe this might the moment (or at least in the next 9 years) that all people on earth finally start to realize that we are one kind -race and religion have no baring on our future.  Our future will be based on human collaboration.

In order to survive the next ventures that are going to exist for our species, we are all going to have rise above the pettiness of fighting for land and ideologies. It will be this planet with or against other intergalactic species in the pursuit of exploration, technology, energy and co-habitation.

Taking warring ways beyond our stratosphere can have no positive contribution to our civilization and our ability to advance as a species.

Global News

WATCH: Two B.C. women are among 100 semi-finalists around the world for the “Mars One” mission to the red planet. Ted Chernecki reports.

A half-dozen Canadians remain in the running for a controversial plan by a Dutch-based organization to establish a colony on Mars by 2025.

Mars One, the non-profit organization spearheading the project, says the six Canadians include four people from Ontario and two from British Columbia.

READ MORE: N.S. man out of running to live on Mars

A seventh Canadian, a 29-year-old man from the Yukon, who was also selected, dropped out for personal reasons.

The organization says the four women and two men are among a group of about 100 from which they will select a final 24 people to man the missions.

One year ago, 75 Canadians were selected from more than 202,000 who applied in 2012.

Mars One says the mission will cost about $6 billion…

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A CIO’s Christmas List

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I know that this is a little early in the year – but I don’t know if this just for CIO’s or for any techie. In 2013 I posted my list for tech girls, 2014 my cousin posted this…. it gives everyone a full year to get thinking about their techy loved ones.

A CIO's Voice

aciosvoice.jpg2014 has been a great year. Things are looking better. Hopefully the momentum will carry into 2015.

I have tried to be really good by being the best CIO I can. So Santa, this year, I would like the following:

  • Apple iPhone 6 plus. I have decided bigger is better but I haven’t figured out how to carry it.
  • A development team that can hit the ground running and fix code quickly.
  • An approved IT budget where I don’t have to make drastic cuts and figure out how to do more with so much less.
  • A migration plan to get legacy applications into the cloud.
  • Not to be hacked by foreign governments.
  • One of those toy helicopters. I think your elves are messing with us. I have yet to fly one of those straight and have it last longer than 3 days without breaking it.
  • A new set of golf clubs…

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