Consulting, Publishing, Engineering

Intelligent Content 2014

Intelligent Content Conference (ICC) was held in San Jose this year, and it was educational, fun, exhausting, and completely amazing.  The event sold out, so it was a full house for pretty much every event and every session.  I actually showed up the day before, and was delighted to see that I’d be sharing some duties with Danielle Villegas (@techcommgeekmon) and our new best buddy Charlie Southwell (@charliesaidthat).  Charlie’s a friend of Rahel Bailie’s in London, and it was his first time at an ICC.  We also connected with Noz Urbina (@nozurbina) and some other people, and had a wonderful evening on what I think of as Day 0.


The conference itself started strong, with an opening keynote by Joe Pulizzi.  In it, he managed to invoke both George Carlin’s “Talks About Stuff”… and Shakespeare.  Quite the range!

Then we had a panel of pretty much the industry royalty:  Ann Rockley (@arockley), Kristina Halvorson (@halvorson), Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi), Buddy Scalera (@MarketingBuddy), and Cleve Gibbon (@cleveg)

And of course, there were breakout sessions.  I started with Jennifer Fell talking about “Big Data: Metrics, Myths, and Power”.  She pointed out how data collection is increasing everywhere, and sensor data (i.e. grocery stores, health care) is now combining with social media.  She also referenced Nate Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise, which references Moneyball by Micheal Lewis, which talks about using baseball stats to analyze difference between signal (useful data) and noise (the stuff that gets in the way). Sensors on train tracks, weather info, and speed data combine to predict track safety and prevent accidents.  Really interesting big-picture talk about big data.

Kevin Nichols (@kpnichols) from Sapient Nitro came to talk about his new paper co-authored with Rebecca Schneider (@azzardconsult) called Positioning Content for Success: A Metrics-Driven Strategy  Among other insights, he talked about how Omnichannel is more than publishing. It’s a contentstrategy that addresses customer journey across media and time.  The majority of users experience digital content across multiple devices, and the smaller the screen, the shorter the span of attention.  Kevin was clearly speaking from experience!


ICC was also the release of The Language of Content Strategy book from Scott Abel and Rahel Bailie – and I got to be a part of it!  They started with 52 words that are commonly used when people talk about content strategy, and they assigned one word to each of 52 co-authors.  Each person wrote a clear definition, a short essay, and and explanation of why that word or concept is important.  Scott and Rahel took all this content about content and built a reusable database that allowed them to publish the book AND a deck of flash cards (one term per card) in about 2 months.  They’ve got a website, a plan for a word-a-week distribution, and more recently, a set of audio files to go with it.

“Everyone thought we were making a book. But what we really wanted was a case study of good content strategy” –Scott Abel @scottabel

I was also THRILLED and surprised to see Jim Romano this year.  He is absolutely one of my favorite people, and we only get to see each other once every couple of years.  But this was our year, and it was great!


Jim brought along his colleague Yoshi (@bunguman), who in turn brought along his Google Glass.  And yes, I made sure to introduce him to Marta Rauch(@martarauch).

Jim’s talk was about Operationalizing Global Content, starting by talking about culture. Culture influences perception, frames the way we engage with content and the way we learn.  The Global Content Lifestyle (Organize, Author, Localize, Publish) has evolved, and we now need to focused on customer and dialogue and (though this has always been true, it’s truer now than ever) ROI.  There are many ways to segment users: culture, responsibilities, experience, needs, languages, tasks, more.  Jim also uses the acronym the ABCDE Cycle: define the Architecture, Business goals, Cultural behaviors, Drivers, Ecosystem (then repeat).

I couldn’t be everywhere at once, no matter how hard I tried, but you can get a recap of some of the other sessions over at see Andrew Nhem’s blog Adapt & Gather. He says:

“A collision of passionate content strategists, tech writers, and marketers. Recapped as much as I could at”

If that’s not enough, the slide decks from Intelligent Content 2014 are archived here:….

And of course there were exhibitors.  One of my favorites is Kyle Wiens from iFixit (and about a dozen other brilliant and fascinating projects).  Here, he was promoting his Dozuki platform.  I’ve long said that I think Kyle looks a lot like Tom Johnson, and I finally got the chance to stand them next to each other.  What do you think?  They could be twins, right?


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