Things what I writ

I sometimes write nonsense about things to try and sound clever

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

damien hurst pringle selection

travelogue 14
travelogue 14 by Tim Caynes

ah, right. that would be, well, it’s not so bad in real money. I am rather peckish. I don’t know what that is, or that, or that. that looks like some kind of evil granny biscuit. 2 quid for a snickers. I don’t even think I could bring myself to claim that back. hang on, what’s this key for? ooh. I see. nicely hidden under the tv like it usually is except it’s locked like it usually isn’t so it must have something really special in there. it’s got a nice little window at the top. never seen a window on a fridge before. ooh, look. they’ve put the very thing in that window that you’re likely to have an uncontrollable urge for after 18 hours of travelling having missed dinner and feeling like you have a mouthful of gravel and a brainful of lint. that’s right. sour cream and chives pringles. only a small tube mind. it’s hardly a tube at all, more like a tub. or maybe a tu. but it’s got pringles in and they is the sweet nectar of the gods of corporate hospitality, divine in their scallopness and at the same bewitching in their potatoiness. you can literally trip over the delicate crunchiness of those 32 holy cheesy wafers and immerse yourself in their soft duvet of saltiness. without doubt, you can expire and elevate to the paradise beyond this life after popping the last one.

but I’m not paying 4 dollars for them. you can swivel. I’ve still got a fruit bar I stole from British Airways.

that’s not you, you’re an imposter

so I finally meet the team after about 6 months and nobody recognizes me. there I am wondering around BRM looking all english and trying to put faces to polycoms and I’m just looking like a freak in a tube station after I’ve been kicked out of Ruby’s. you, you’re, um, you must be, well, you look a bit like Liz, but she’s in Burlington. so. no. hang on, you’re, no, I know this, you’re…Bob! Hey Bob! you look just like you do on the video conference. no, that’s a compliment, really. Bob?

hoisted by my own petard. our internal org system means you can look up anyone in the company and get all the details you want, including all the hidden fields they’d forgotten they’d filled in in 1998, which say things like ‘clammy’ and ‘executive’. it also lets you see where people are working, which office they’re in, how you get there, what they’re doing, what they’re having for lunch in Guillemonts and stuff like that. it also has the option to integrate some optional detail, such as your calendar appointments and a picture of yourself. so, calendar, that’s genius, right? I mean, we’re all over the place, literally, so coordinating the time in 2 weeks when everybody you need to be on the phone at the same time to discuss how you’re going to allow someone in france to author a whitepaper that someone in germany can subscribe to without exposing the whole content branch and then arguing for hours about what global content is anyway is difficult, so you look up everyone’s calendars and see for yourself that the only time everyone is free is 22:00 your time when you’d planned to go and see Sin City and get lagered up afterwards because its thursday and you never do any real work on friday anyway.

so that’s good. what’s more revealing, however, is the choice of picture that folks use to let people determine exactly what they are like. mostly people don’t do it at all, which is fine, because a lot of people don’t have the slightest interest in investing the time to find out how you do it, or more pointedly reserve the right to not not let you know what they look like as that’s an infringement of their civil liberty, which is also fine, except that appears to be predominantly the U.S. go to Korea of Singapore and they can’t wait to stick in their pictures of them grinning into a Canon that the manager has taken round the office that morning. those that do upload themselves will generally do the ‘a bit too close and not very well lit in the office but that will do I suppose, I mean it looks like me I guess’ thing. others will play that maverick card and lob in a hilarious offcut from google image search that lets people know the kind of person they are without actually letting you know what person they are. you know, a darth vader, a dilbert, a muppet, a full face blowup PVC gimp mask from a BDSM site they just happened to come across when searching for ‘leather cleaner’, honest. those kind of things are ok. I mean those kind of pictures, not those kind of masks. or sites, er, anyway.

there is another category of image that occasionally turns up, but you only know if you already know what the person looks like, so its a kind of elaborate vanity test that sometimes you pass, or sometimes you fail to excuse effectively. this is the category called ‘well, its always me behind the camera, so there’s never any current pictures of me, so I had to use a 10 year old picture, that’s all I had’. and that’s where I found myself, wandering down the corridors at 5000 feet, blanks looks all around, trying to hide the fact that I might just have added a few pounds and lost some hair and maybe gone a bit gray since that photo you saw of me on the org tool that is 10 years old. my new boss didn’t recognize me until the next day and then she said ‘you’re an imposter! that’s not you on the org tool!’. dammit.

so now I’m up to date and look just like I really look, so if anyone looks me up, it’s their fault.


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.