Magazine article Information Today

Spring 2010 ASIDIC Meeting Delves into Smart Content

Magazine article Information Today

Spring 2010 ASIDIC Meeting Delves into Smart Content

Article excerpt

With new web technologies paving the way toward smarter content, a significant change is underway in the publishing industry. Documents can now be thought of as data, which can significantly enhance services to information users.

In March, the Spring 2010 ASIDIC meeting in Philadelphia provided an introduction to smart content. It showcased four case studies that illustrated the ways in which publishers have begun using semantic technologies to transform their content so that it can be used for competitive analysis, trend identification, and other applications beyond the typical "find a few good documents" search.

In the opening keynote, Susan Feldman, research vice president at International Data Corp. (IDC), noted that information retrieval systems have been language-based and designed for human interaction. But computers do not excel at handling language and resolving ambiguities; terminology mismatches still exist across databases, which leads to a breakdown in information retrieval. By adding intelligence to the content, these problems are resolved and formerly impossible tasks such as pattern analysis and meaning extraction can be accomplished. Smart content is data that has been analyzed and tagged, giving users the ability to do more accurate searching, explore large sets of information, and use analytic techniques that can feed other applications such as business intelligence, marketing, customer service, and product development, says Feldman. Information is a form of interaction between people that leads to social relationships and network building as well as answering questions, which will become increasingly important in the future.

Feldman reported that a recent IDC survey revealed most knowledge workers spend between 3 and 8 hours per week searching for information and a sizable number of them spend more than 16 hours a week, so anything that can be done to shorten searching time will increase productivity. The same survey reported that more than 60% of the 332 respondents use internet search engines as their primary source of information, not company intranets.

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Feldman characterized the following three types of successful players in the digital marketplace:

* Gateways that index the web, attract large audiences, present content without bias, and have a high degree of trust

* Hubs that aggregate and create specialized subwebs and select content while providing high-value tools to access it

* Nodes that are destinations with few outward links and that frequently must buy traffic

People are overwhelmed with information and this problem will only get worse, so quality selection is the next great frontier.

Content needs to be smart because it must be analyzed, so ease of use is important. Feldman identified the following significant opportunities for publishers:

* Content tied to specific subject areas that also incorporates search and analysis tools

* Mobile applications, which is a growing trend

* Compelling websites with recommendation engines and improved ecommerce

* Personalization

* Visual delivery of content for quick understanding

John Blossom, president of Shore Communications, Inc., agreed. In his blog posting about the meeting (www.shore.com/commentary/weblogs/2010/ 03/asidicspring-2010-smart-content-pulls.html), he wrote that those who are not using the open web and social media as marketing channels are missing more than 80% of their opportunities to be relevant to people who need enterprise content.

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To help attendees understand what semantic content is and how it can be used, Thane Kerner, CEO of Silverchair (a developer of semantic-based information systems in the STM space), discussed the concept of semantic technology. According to a dictionary definition, semantics is the study of the implied meaning of words. …

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