Monday, April 18, 2011

The Inevitable Future of Content Management



We have "known" for decades that tv screens would eventually become flat enough to be wall-mounted just like a painting. I remember reading about flat-screen tvs in a magazine about future technologies when I was about 12 in the beginning of the 80s. The idea has probably been around ever since the television was first invented. It has always been a matter of time until we would have flat-screens tvs.

For me it's kind of the same thing with content management (although not as many people are as interested in the future of content management as they are in the future of tv technology). In the future, content management will become like air, invisible to users. The content will be automatically managed. We won't have to spend any thoughts on how to manage our content. We won't have to care about different formats or types of content, where the content is stored, or what version of it that is the correct one. Instead we will be able to concentrate entirely on how to communicate effectively.

A less distant future will look something like this:

  • Library services such as version control and checkout/checkin are happening behind the scenes. The services available for any type of content, whatever tool is used to produce it. As users we don't have to care about such things as resolving editing conflicts and backing up our information. Sometimes we browse our content from a timeline perspective to see how it has evolved. We can turn on playback and choose to stop at any point in time to look at how the content.(Remember the playback feature in Google Wave? Although Google Wave failed miserably, this was one of the features that lived on.)
  • Nothing is deleted. Ever. We still sort and filter things away to keep the things we need in close proximity and the things we don't need away from our attention, but most of it is done automatically as the systems we use learn what kind of information we are interested in.
  • We are using light-weight collaborative tools for creating, aggregating, and sharing content. Editing is not even a mouse click away; it is within a touch or swipe with a finger or two. We do it on any device. 
  • We have said goodbye to native formats and hello to standardized open formats. The standardization of content formats was the key to enable reuse and seamless integration across applications and platforms. Native formats was a 20th century plague which we have put behind us.
  • Cloud-based storage and automatic synchronization services enables seamless working across any device. The physical storage location became irrelevant when we could access our content from anywhere and know that it was managed in a secure way.
  • To avoid information falling inte the wrong hands and to keep information integrity, information protection has been implemented on content level and all authentication uses our digital IDs. The content cannot be manipulated or accessed via an application that doesn't support security standards and authentication using trusted digital IDs.

Apparently, in some respects the future is already here. It just needs to be distributed evenly. Eventually content management will become like air, just like we now have wall-mounted flat-screen tvs. It's just a question of time.