globalful

what we am are

Global, local, desktop, mobile

About a million years ago I wrote the web globalisation strategy for a large corporation that included, variously, authoring and production strategy, globalisation, localisation and internationalisation requirements, data architecture, content management platform definition, functional specifications, business requirements, lots of pictures of concentric circles, some arrows, some double-byte character sets, search integration, all sorts of stuff. I mean, I didn’t write all of it. No, actually, I did write all of it. And it was pretty good. But it never happened.

It never happened because the content strategy that supported a ‘write once, publish everywhere’ model was simply too inflexible for stakeholders to sign up to. The idea is perfectly simple. The execution is pretty doable. We could build the platform, we could integrate localisation workflows, we could support content authors with different levels of scope and authority, we could distribute that authoring, we could centralise that authoring, we could mash everything together into a globalised online presence, and Bob would indeed be your uncle.

However, different stakeholders want different things. Different customers want different things. Different users want different things. So, what’s good for the North American goose isn’t necessarily good for the Korean gander. What’s good for the North American buck isn’t necessarily good for the French doe. What’s good for the North American seahorse isn’t necessarily good for the Australian, well, seahorse. And the subtleties of those differences are what led the program to dribble to an apologetic unconclusion. We simply couldn’t define a content strategy that was flexible enough to assemble and distribute a globalised site, based on the centralised, corporate brand and product requirements and the business needs of the content experts and marketeers in the countries. It was easier for the countries to roll their own. So that’s what they did. Using the platform we built to support the central content model. They just created their own instances and copy and pasted the bits they needed from .com, creating silos and duplicates all over the place thankyouverymuch.

It’s that difficulty I witnessed in the global vs. local model that appears to be a central (pun intended) issue with desktop vs. mobile. Well, ok, it’s one of the central issues. I mean, it’s a bit of an issue. IT’S AN ISSUE.

There’s no reason why technically we can’t support the authoring, publishing and distribution of content and services that can provide a coherent experience across all kinds of screens and devices. Responsive design is a method. Having less stuff is a method. Having smaller stuff is probably a method. But for a properly scalable, flexible and efficient operation, it’s just not going to happen unless all stakeholders are in agreement about the content strategy. And when I say stakeholders, I mean anyone who owns, manages, authors or consumes that content. As a content owner, you might not care about comments disappearing from an article when you read it on a smaller viewport. As a commenter, you’ve just been slapped with the wet fish of ‘fuck you’ simply because you’re reading the article on something that fits in your palm. And that’s why content strategy is hard and why rendering isn’t the whole answer.

I’m not proposing a solution, I just see parallels with the globalisation efforts I went through years ago. I don’t think anyone has ever really got globalisation right. I’m not sure anyone will ever really get content strategy for the wider web right. But it is fascinating seeing the component parts evolve that might make it happen.

Jennifer might enjoy this Global Web Programs presentation (PDF 5mb) that talks about the common web platform. Fun times.

listening post: pg.lost – jonathan

which way round for globalization development?

I’m not sure where this bit goes. I mean, I understand the idea of your über plan and all that, ’cause you’ve been banging on about that and doing those staroffice presentations with all those circles and arrows and things for years, but what exactly do you want me to do when somebody managing global content deletes a node in the global tree and expects the whole operation to be supported seamlessly across multiple venues and countries and languages?

er, I dunno. I only did the strategy, right? or did I do the business requirements as well? I can’t remember. oh, that’s what you mean. so what do you want me to tell you? everything we asked you to tell us 6 months ago about how you actually want this content platform to support a centralized content model at a level where we can actually write something approaching a functional spec which we can turn into something we can actually begin to engineer. have you got time to do that? oh, sure! um, but what is it you actually want me do do? I mean, have I missed something out from the globalization requirements that I did last year? well, yeah. you need to let us know how somebody might actually utilize the platform to perform some kind of task which supports the operational model that you put in those requirements so we can work out whether we need to re-architect the system to enable slurping by delta and node deletion and actually what the criteria are for us having actually delivered a globalized platform that meets your needs, which, by the way, are probably not the same as they were a year ago, because everything’s changed.

oh, right. hang on, are you telling me that my own business requirements might be wrong? you can’t do that, I am the business. there mine. it’ll take them home and not let you play with them if you start saying nasty things about them. no, we’re not saying they’re wrong, they’re just not quite, well, right. here’s a whole bunch of stuff we noted that you might want to consider, because what you’ve asked for and what we’re doing aren’t necessarily exactly converging on a neat path. oh, ok, thanks. jesus! that’s loads of stuff! yeah, but we want to make sure we do it right, right?

so we reach an agreement that I pull my dumbass finger out and actually do those process flows n’ stuff that I never get round to doing and the engineering team will do what’s right, like they always do, and if they need anything urgently to progress the globalization development, they’ll let me know, so I can make something up and filter it back into the strategy later. only joking. I’m calling it the pragmatic globalization development chain (because of course, aggressive pragmatism leads us into systemized sticky matrix approaches), which is how it’s always been really, except the engineering team know globalization as well as the rest of us these days, so I’m much more deferential when I tell them absolutely positively that global content is US-English and the tiered fallback model only goes 2 levels, because they’ll probably be able to point out to me just how that won’t really work, even from a business point of view, but in a really nice way.

globalization. head. wall.

there’s no myths associated with globalization just a simple truth. you’ve got to change all your business processes mate, cos this globalized solution ain’t gonna work if you keep producing stuff like you’re in an exam room with your arm over the answers and then expect it to spread the sharing message to where the revenue is, which is not where you are, probably. the burgeoning underclass of globalization managers have been squirrelling around for years, trying to get you in a small room with no natural light just so you can understand how it might actually be possible to transform our beautifully crafted concept album of monetization through pragmatic centralization into a workable, sustainable and accountable framework for managing our messaging and enabling our commerce venues with cascading content inheritance and local value-added content support, like what I just drew on those concentric circles in staroffice, in case you were trying to work out what that was. this projector’s a bit rubbish. and I’m in another country, of course.

I mean, it’s not like its gonna even cost you a fistful of dollars. you’re already building that central web application architecture, right? I just know you’re gonna be fully internationalized an’ that, and lookit, you got hooks into localization workflows and all that stuff going on, so its gonna be like sticking a lemon on the eiffel tower. easy innit? so why not let us talk to the authors and business owners so we can’t just have some sort of arrangement where we give them this lovely globalized platform where localized milk and internationalized honey flow across the plains of centralization and over the cliffs of subscription and into the valleys of unified content taxonomies and they just have to change the way they’ve been creating stuff for the last 10 years. I think they’ll be open to that. I expect they’re falling over themselves to break their agreements with their press agencies and design vendors and actually, I bet if we pointed out to them that copy and pasting entire sections of our corporate site into Re: Re: [Fwd: Re: [Fwd: URGENT: Re: [Fwd: emails and then expecting the intern to create the online equivalent of the cistine chapel on 15 disparate sites in 10 languages in flash isn’t the most viable authoring solution, then they’d probably have some kind of religious experience and convert wholeheartedly to the church of g11n and succumb to the divine and all-knowing truth of ‘the content model’.

so, I’m off down the newsagents to pick up my copy of Marketing Matters – But Not If I Can’t Employ My Friends To Do It magazine and I’ll leave it to you to arrange the con call that has to work for Santa Clara, Camberley, Singapore and Moscow that will kick this stuff off. but don’t do it on Wednesday afternoon, cos I have an appointment with a medico about a collapsed idea.

oi

shut it you blart. look, if I say you ave to change your business processes then you aint got a leg to stand on right? I mean, it stands to reason dunnit? you got a lahvly set of content there – oi, dave, ain’t that a lahvly set of content? look ere, look. its got tabs and everything, real class, not like that muck you get over at those cowboys down the east end. anyway, here’s the thing. I’ve got a proposition for you which I reckon you might take a fancy to. I just had an associate of mine drop round for a little chat, and we got talking in the back of the jag, see? it only turns out he’s got a bleedin globalization strategy for our web venues that massively reduces complexity in our publishing processes, enables content reuse and promotes a consistent, coherent voice to our customers, while providing a feature-rich user experience supporting local business priorities and an extensible content model that integrates localization workflow and plug-in web services on a centralized, internationalized, common web platform, dunnit?

so here’s the deal, my son. as I’m feeling generous and I’ve ad enough trouble with little narks like you today, I’m gonna let you in on a little bit of business. call it a mark of my gratitude for the loyalty you’ve shown to me over the years. I mean, you’re like a brother to me. except of course you ain’t, but you know, you’re like family, right? and what do families do? that’s right, my son, they share things. you share your takings and I share you a slap from ron here, but today it’s different, cos today, I’m sharing with you a chance to put all that behind you. what I’ve got for you today my son is only a bleedin global content model, innit? eh? geddit? a global content model. you know what that means, right? ere, ron, I don’t think he’s understanding me right. I ain’t seeing any gratitude. do I ave to spell it out for you? look, its a bleedin centralized content authoring and production environment with subscription, global tree merge, and all that nice stuff, based on a write centrally, view locally publishing model that supports the research and buy cycle in local language for a local market where we do 60% of that kind of stuff, whatever that is. it even lets you carry on authoring all those things you do youself and then sticks everything together in some kind sepository or something so it all looks like it’s supposed to be and not like its just fallen of the back of a virtual lorry and you’ve got some slave labour at 10 quid an hour to patch it up like a kipper. tell im dave,

look, this offer don’t last right? as soon as we’re out that door we’re off down whitehall to see a man about a bit of trouble with opening sauces or something, and then the offer’s closed. all I want you to do, my son, is just make a small change to your business process. that’s all. just a small change. all you have to do is stop making stuff that only works in one place and start making stuff that works in any place. then we’ll throw in the globalization bits and we’ll be laughin. that’s gotta be the best deal you’ve ad all day, right? tell him ron. make him understand the value of localization-readiness in content creation, but don’t make a mess, mind. I’ve already got blood on me Armani from that trip down camberley.

no, it’s really just rubbish

too bad. 22 years forcing myself to like Barrett, but today I give it a 2, which means I’ll never hear it again. stupid tea-brained outcast, whining uncontrallably in front of a fireplace in his bare-floorboards front room while dave and nick bring him soup from the co-op and prop him up on a stool, where he just dribbles into his chest, the spark gone right out. I used to live in the flat upstairs to that room when I was sticking £35 price tags on mono copies of piper at the gates of dawn in the upstairs of the cambridge beat goes on and I thought that was just very cool, but actually neither of those things were and now I’m deleting him from my playlist to make way for The Longcut, so there.

in between sticking pins in my arm to remind myself I’m still here and that I really should be revising the standard templates and indexes for global venues in line with Sun’s rebranding and the things I forgot to do in the first place, I’m fiddling with a P800 and pointing a gun at my foot as I think about what to put on the Tadpole to see me through the next week in the land of high-altitude Jagermeister and a big bed at the Omni that I’ll probably fall out of at 4 in the morning as I stumble for the hotel ethernet cable that will connect me up to the Sun network to coordinate Japan. I have to use photoshop, so I have to use XP. I need to install JDS, but I really don’t have the wit to dual boot and I only have 1 day to sort it out anyway and by the way, if you’re thinking of suggesting the gimp, then don’t. I’ll do the right thing when I get back and then reinstall the entire home network with solaris 10 and get VPN working because chris managed it so I should be able to, even though he’s got a Ferrari now like what all them engineers do. you just need to get NAT to point to the right port and apparently a tunnel opens up, like fricken Narnia or something. I dunno.

so i’m going to rip the heart out of an About Sun gateway and stick it back together again with ‘I know what I’m talking about, really’ glue, ready to hoof over to the development team to do that stuff they do with XML and god knows what and then I’ll stick a new stylesheet on the press pages and wrap up the indexes like dynamic fajitas and then I’ll ask the lovely people in Australia if they would like to opt in to changing the world and everything in it just by configuring their NSAPI. or I’ll have another pie. pie it is. hang on, Spiritualized. blimey, that’s a bit rubbish too.

think of me when you close your eyes

just past mid-point of a globalizationfest and I’ve stuck a pin in the calendar at May 30. we’ll have China and Japan and Taiwan and Korea and Hong Kong and Asia South and, oh, Russia and the Netherlands. if I could stop flapping about in my Panasonics, nodding dementedly to the dust brothers, I could probably also get all the menus fully qualified on search for all 37 sites and make June very happy. but I haven’t done that. I’ve been pointing sticks at globalization policies for corporately produced features and trying to squeeze an annotated screen shot in there because I have an aversion to just publishing things that do the job, when I could spend a day making sure the font sizes are all correct and I can crowbar in a visual to make it look like I know what I’m talking about when obviously I’m making it up, but I happen to have photoshop and a stack of pre-watershed screenshots.

a get sidetracked though. I have to revise the globalization requirements based on me forgetting what I said in the first place and then work out how that gets mangled up with the standard templates for common content across worldwide sites that will compel local business units to opt in to the platform we promised them 3 years ago but they think looks like the one that didn’t work for them before this one and anyway they’re all doing their own thing now and anyway it’s so far away I won’t be able to use that because you can’t support me in this timezone with a blackberry and a couple of matchsticks, even if you do have that guy in the UK who fixed my password once and has a nice sofa.

but then I remember I’ve forgotten to do the things with the globalization forum that would make everything spring back to life and I’ll never ever get to talk with the architect about version 6 of the navigational support technology who thinks I have no idea what happens next because that’s what I told him and anyway now I’m working from home permanently nobody knows who I am which brings me back to the point I hadn’t made yet about being here at 1:10 when I’ve still got tomorrows packed lunches to make and I haven’t filled in the forms about the trip to the fish museum in Yarmouth that will cost me 2×10 quid to let the twins touch a small eel with a pencil and buy stickers of nemo that will make a mark on their antique beds that we can’t get off, even with vinegar.

still, I got some nice duffs today and spent the afternoon looking around skate shops daring beeny hats to point at me and at my obviously 38 year old frame and mock me into a corner with some drum and bass and a stonking great spliiiif. in the end, they all just looked up and said ‘awright mate’ and got back on the moby talking to davo about the blindin’ night they ‘ad last night down at the waterfront. I skulked around looking for a tshirt that didn’t come down to my knees but gave up when one of the d00ds hoofing around behind the oakleys started taking about what to ‘torrent’ off the internet, saying he only had stills of paris hilton. you see, I was tempted you point them at a place I know in hungary where you can get all sorts of strange characters, but it’s been fixed since I last looked so I didn’t really have anything to bring to the party.

so as I crash my head against the mac keyboard that laurence gave me in time to pj harvey – which isn’t easy, especially with the blood in my eyes and it being ‘who the f*’ – I’m thinking about the day that stretches out like a pointy daggery knife and I consider whether us to uk is just as valid as us to jp or kr, because, to be honest, it’d be easier. but that’s not the point right? that’s why sarah chose finnish in 1999 and we all had had to guess what the hell was going on and how you could squeeze Koulutuspalvelut into 47 pixels. just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t commit ourselves to defining that perfect strategy and executing beyond everyone’s wildest expectations. it’s just that, well, we won’t, so I’m looking into how we might just get australia to publish a press release and then I’m hoping the rest of the world will just kind of stumble into the trap until those pesky kids pull off my ‘mr halloran the janitor dressed up as a content management werewolf’ mask and hand me over to a waiting california highway patrolman who will take me downtown where michael douglas will extract from me the gory details of that time in union square where we were so drunk we thought it would be funny to approach the ladies in the street, knowing we had to get up in the morning to demo remote mangement software.

I think I just turned shuffle off by mistake unless it true that they do all sound the same where I end and you begin. the sky is falling in etc.

but I want to do it another way

just a quick check to see if everythings ok and oh, world of pain. so Tom and the boys are gathered around an Americano, throwing bits of anchovy at a twisted effigy of a marketeer made out old Dreamweaver boxes. it’s a public holiday so they’ve decided to spend all day slumped over a big top, poking at bits of Hungarian until the end drops off and they have to copy and paste umlauts from a transcription of the Sun Web Karaoke ’98 event in Copenhagen, where Anna was looking particularly elfin. to make things worse, I don’t even have a clue what they’re supposed to be doing tomorrow, so I’m relying on Mr. Swindon to perform his usual unfaltering push script fandango, so that kudos flutters from the sky like the dry leaves of a recognition tree and alights on the shoulders of the hunchbacks and misfits that make up this great global brotherhood of monkeys.

meanwhile, I’m coughing up internal organs and getting very cold shoulders because I’ve not left my crack pit since returning from Andalucia. there’s 17 load balancing balinesians to plunder and that’s before I’ve checked in with Marco, who’s pointing his roots at the moon, and Johanesjohanusnessunsen who has sprung from an email backup to inform me that everything is alright forever and if they can’t find the press section, I’m sure they’ll work it out themselves. not to mention that Tanned Guy who is quietly moving up on the outside, finding a space between an un-kerned exclamation mark and a stack of 508 update requests.

The reason I’m doing this is unclear. I’ve just kind of got stuck in a project plan trap, but I’ve got so fat I can’t bend over to chew my foot off. while I’m simpering into a bucket, various apparitions dance before me, floating around in the ether and slapping me in the chuff with wet gantt charts until I agree to put me arm in the trap as well, ooh, and while you’re there, could you just make us a cup of tea? I agree to do this, of course, because I’ve got Cliff Richard coming round and I don’t what him to think I’m a slacker, even though he didn’t send me a birthday card this year.

infinity

exuent and fall over. it’s the ubiquity of globalfulnessness that makes us all sit at our desks and talk like this. I used to be just the same as I am now. sitting there on a warranty desk filtering out the calls with ‘SunOS 4.1.1’ or ‘Openwindows’ and putting them in a queue I kept especially for people I thought would never call again and then spending the rest of the day constructing a hilarious usenet posting about Pot Noodles and flaming a dick from Leighton Buzzard. but you progress, and now I’m working at the weekend because the thing I first thought of has turned into the thing that that’s now 2 weeks later and 37 into one isn’t quite all I thought it could be. you’ve got one of those over there, but I haven’t got one over here. they definitely don’t have one in Japan, and a guy from Slovakia has told me he already knew about it when I was supposed have told him but didn’t but he isn’t going to but it doesn’t matter because they don’t but I’m thinking they will when they see the things I’m sending them because they haven’t asked for it, but they’re going to get it and they’ll just have to take it out themselves.

if I could only rearrange the following words, I think I’d be able to make sense of it: time on delivered when going might help if but you’re busy localization applications for once I that said before dammit. It’s probably something to do with that infinite number of program managers and an email client proposition. you know, give an infinite number of program managers an email client and eventually they’ll write every single conference call number and meeting time combination possible on one line without word wrapping but including a signature file so dense the universe implodes after a ‘five minute break’, but crucially, they’ll then spontaneously all stop using it and create a startup company and be the only people at their own leaving parties in an infinite number of bars on University Avenue, necking an infinite number of Jagers before waking up on their own and crying an infinite number of tears into their muesli because that’s really all there is and there’s always a parrot calling your name, but it’s spelt wrong so you never got the email, but the sys admin who’s aliased your own domain and catches all bounces is laughing at you with his friends and pointing at you in an infinite number of corridors with Network Computing posters and notices about Java Desktop System and Solaris plastered on them covering up the Why? campaigns that nobody’s really sure whether you allowed to take down even though they’re 3 years old.

there, there. is there a t-shirt I can wear? I love free stuff.

there’s only one word here: washing. it’s done in outline font and tarmac. it’s right next to phone number for BT Business Broadband complaints (which is 0800 679905, by the way) and it serves to remind me of one thing. I’m more responsible than I ever used to be. I have a number of dependents, more house than Mecca bingo and sums of money that constantly slip betweem my tanned-but-fading fingers. If I don’t hang the washing out I will DIE. That’s all there is to it. I’ll now put Joy Division on and poke myself with sticks in the dark until I get the bends.

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