Entry Points to Content

February 6 2010 3 comments

Modern information systems like intranets contain often massive amounts of information. In our projects we go through quite a lot of trouble to make this information manageable through classification of data. A more philosophically oriented writer might argue that this information becomes knowledge through this process, but it’s not the essence of this writing. After the analysis and classification, the basic challenge remains – how to find anything from the sea of content, and how to make sure that the essential information does not drift by the intended audience who is not especially looking for it.

The SharePointish answer to this is known as the content query or content highlighting. It’s like making sure that the most essential books can be found from multiple shelves of the library, and that the most important new books can be found already at the entrance hall next to the upcoming visiting lecturers and jazz bands. (Of course every once and a while we see an organization, who wants that every book can be found from every shelf, and even from the entrance if that’s possible thank you for asking…)

The content queries are automated means of recognizing the most essential content and delivering it where it is most likely to be useful. This delivery mechanism should of course be aware of the location and organizational belongings of the current user. 2010 even makes possible to automate this selection process through data that has been collected as a feedback of the content. It’s called rating, and it’s going to make managing search experience and highlighting content much more interesting.

Content queries are a beautiful concept, and you can see them in many browser based services nowadays. However, there are issues that the specification team should be aware of

  • The basic concept is easy, but making detailed specification on the mechanisms can become too complex for the end user to understand if the pace is too fast
  • Combining distributed and centralized content production with query and highlighting mechanisms makes the content production to become confusing
  • The technical implementation might be tricky when it comes to crossing site collection boundaries, using managed meta data typed columns with subcategories (especially with the content producer configurable, generalized components), formatting the output, or just setting which columns get queries and how much do you display so that the customer accepts the associated price tag

Content queries and highlighting is like a port between different dimensions of content to interconnect your content and make it alive through functionality. The essence is a good meta data model, that provides foundation for the automation.

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3 comments to “Entry Points to Content”

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