Friday, January 26, 2007

Web 2.0 - Content 2.0

OK, it's been a while since I've posted any curmudgeonly thoughts. Been busy writing about Acrobat 8.0 and its consistency with Content 2.0.
What's "Content 2.0" you say? Well, you have to be living under a rock not to have heard about Web 2.0, and since the yin/yang of the web is application/data, I thought it was important to point out that the yang-side of things - content - is in the midst of its own birth pangs.

What are some distinguishing characteristics of content that are undergoing transformational change, the "2.0" thingy? Like Web 2.0, I see a parallel set of attributes in the content side of things:

1) Truly structured (XML-based) content, the question being how comparatively descriptive the structures are. See O’Reilly – “Data is the next ‘Intel-Inside’

2) Web standards applied to content

3) Social, cooperative, collaborative media

4) Delivered anywhere, anytime to any device (re-purposing

5) Combined in new and unexpected ways (re-use

6) Unexpected “mashup’s” providing new content possibilities (e.g., SVG and FlashPaper as alternates to PDF

7) Highly visual

Unlike the content world before OpenOffice (and its cousins StarOffice etc.), and Office 2007, content was pretty much whatever you wrote and laid out on a page... just like static web pages. The words were important, but the tools were presentational -- they helped you add visual appeal to the words, but the words were pretty much a continuous stream of text separated by spaces and punctuation. Now things are changing. Although Office 2007 appears (I'll know more after I get my hands on a package) to merely translate the old "visual layout of text" --Rich Text Format-- into XML, still it is a giant step in the right direction. It helps to be able to search for a figure caption or table caption, for example, while excluding paragraph text.

Now there's too much to think about in Content 2.0 to lay it all down here, but suffice it to say that Adobe has taken a similar step forward with Acrobat 8.0 in adding flash-based collaboration to the formerly electronic reader capabilities of Acrobat. And just before I submitted the column praising Adobe for that feat, I learned that --like OpenOffice and Office 2007-- Adobe had its own initiative to transform Acrobat's internal structure to XML -- the "Mars" project. So that makes another heavy hitter signing up for Content 2.0.

One nit-pick about Acrobat 8.0 though --it's open but still isn't completely converted to the "open source" religion. I was very disappointed to see that there is no Adobe writer plug-in to Mozilla, no "web capture" if you will that preserves the links. Still, Adobe is taken some distinctly forward steps in Acrobat 8.0 and deserves credit for that.