Monday, October 5, 2009

Content Architecture using Memetics

Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme by Richard Brodie, describes the foundation of memes as being distinctions, associations, and strategies. When applied to Enterprise Content Management there are some interesting comparisons. Advertisers know how to push our buttons to drive sales, just as content architectures know the best ways to describe and find content, or do they?


Example: It’s snowing, or our content is all on a share drive.

These are the ways to describe content that are particular to the business unit, the company, and the industry. This metadata is vital for survival of the content, in other words, can a User find it among thousands or millions of other pieces of content? What key information can be drawn out of the content file or its context to direct successful search result?


Example: Snow is dangerous when driving, or without metadata I get thousands of search results.

Relationships among content and its environment are key the understanding the thoughts (memes) behind the content. A taxonomy helps by categorizing a business unit’s way of thinking for its search or retention purposes. This taxonomy would have to fit into the enterprise as a whole. The issue here is to start at the level where the content is created and is useful to the local users, then expand the levels out in a way that doesn’t disturb the functional aspects of the original group. Too much of an imposition will get rejected or worse slowly ignored.

Rules and Regulations come in to play for controlling and focusing content for common delivery to people and interfaces outside of the company’s mindset.

Fuzzy vs. Absolute: Users want to be able to fill out metadata and find that exact content later. This means the content architecture has to balance the business unit’s requirements with the enterprise's.


Example: If I have an all wheel drive I’ll make it through the snow, or with a taxonomy I can make sense of complex organizations.

Repetition: this is used to drill home the importance of certain ways of thinking (memes). For example, a naming convention will reinforce ways of thinking about content and its context (association meme).

Cognitive Dissonance: this is used to reward a User for taking the time to fill out metadata correctly. For example, filling out metadata and associations is rewarded with less change management, less hassle in the future when ways of organizing content changes.

Content Silos

However you want to attack the issues of content silos, they will always exist. The strategy memes of the business unit will always differ in meaning and scope from the enterprise. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to make importing and/or changing content the easiest on the User is the hardest to figure out in terms of scale and performance on the system. This means that finding the right balance of splitting up the system’s resources for each business unit weighing the content demands, the ability to find content, the access control, and the application of the latest rules and regulations. This balance when seen visually will make sense, but the challenge is to get agreement from all the parties involved, the governance. This is where strategy memes make inroads: they help far removed executives understand the long term benefits when seen from the past, present and future.


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