Kickoff Meeting Announcement

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Kickoff Meeting Announcement

Post by FirstLight »

Greetings Graphers!

Thank you for joining our small special interest group, The Semantic Content Graph Guild.

I firmly believe we are standing at the threshold of a historic transition with TechComm and MarComm content - from creating and delivering only reactive, prescriptive, failure-mode content to dynamic, predictive, hyper-personalized, and proactive content. We're aiming far beyond bots. As I often proclaim in public venues, “After many centuries, we're still designing, creating, managing, and delivering prescriptive failure-mode content for everyone, but for no one in particular.”A number of us have wanted to cross that chasm since we identified these two core models as far back as the late 1980's when content object modeling experiments began. At the time we used Bachman to model content objects which were some of the earliest use of machine-assisted information architecture). We knew what we wanted to achieve – we simply didn’t have the technology at the time to make it functional for content consumption. Back then we were limited to early AI technologies such as Expert Systems, and intelligent content object stores didn't exist.

Those of you that know me well know that I practice full transparency. Please allow me to share the reasons why I formed this group.
  • Like most of you, I am a consummate content practitioner, not a vendor or consultant. I have nothing to sell anyone. I’ve been frustrated (and often annoyed) listening to the vendor- and consultant-sponsored webinars and conference sessions aimed at what I call “entry-level metadata and semantics” and pontification about AI/ML-based evangelism on vaporware. Those sessions seem to only serve the providers to bring in new business for basic tasks. We’re no longer content listening to the industry consultants and wannabe’s just talking about AI, ML, and personalization who don’t seem to be able to show a single working model or provide a model roadmap for a working implementation. Frankly, I don’t think they know because they are talking and not building; we’re left holding the bag having to build the first generation of applications ourselves. We’re (hopefully) beyond the basics of establishing content strategies, information architectures, and content governance models. We’re looking to take intelligent content and semantic intelligence to an entirely new applied level.
  • My interest lies in advancing the state of the art. Like many of you, I’ve worn many hats over the course of my 40-year career. I am an Information Developer at heart and always will be. I grew up with “intelligent content” from the dawn of structured content and have held almost every conceivable role.
  • I am of the opinion we have only run half the race with intelligent content; we need to go the full distance to what I've termed "cognitive content." I believe cognitive content in our TechComm and MarComm content space will be powered by advanced semantic technologies.
  • AI/ML, at scale, for TechComm/MarComm is bleeding-edge with a great deal of discovery remaining. We are better off collaborating on our discovery efforts.
  • I’ve been an enterprise content strategist. a content platform architect, and a trained systems engineer for the bulk of my career. In short, I am on the hook for designing, building, deploying, managing, and supporting content systems with my team of engineers and collaborating with providers. Other than the competition in the tax compliance space I have no reason not to share and collaborate with content industry peers.
  • Ideally, our collaboration can result in reference implementations for a variety of applications. There is a dearth of how-to knowledge in this space. A reference roadmap and/or cookbook would help propel our industry.
  • Our industry has a long history of “roll-your-own” solutions. Standards such as DITA along with consortia such as CIDM and others spawned an entire industry of providers. Today we have a variety of off-the-shelf solutions we can consider might call “buy-an-extend” wares in addition to open-source options, along with consultants to assist. Ideally, we can collectively push the commercial providers to integrate and extend the technologies we need to enable graph-powered capabilities and minimize the “extend” element. However, in the near term, it may be necessary to do the integration ourselves. Unfortunately, graph capabilities won’t become ubiquitous until the providers are fully on-board; some are already headed in that direction.
  • Finally, it is far more fun and rewarding to collaborate and grow with other like thinkers and innovators in our industry. XML, for example, was a product of such cross-content industry collaboration. If we don’t lead, who will? I don't think the vendors know enough about our needs and visions to lead.
Several points I’d like to make about this group and its operation
  • We’re not under any type of non-disclosure agreement. Carefully consider what you choose to share as it will be public. Unless expressed otherwise, I plan to record these sessions for others and post them to the discussion forum I’ve established for those that might not be able to attend or join later. I expect the sessions to be quite valuable. If what you have is confidential and proprietary, don’t share it. If someone posts content to a discussion forum that you want to be deleted, let me know and I’ll remove it.
  • The subject matter we’ll be covering is ripe for invention. If you have an idea that you think might be patentable and want to protect it, write an invention disclosure before sharing. If you decide to do a disclosure after involving others in this forum, then kindly offer to include folks on those disclosures if they have made material contributions.
  • I want this to be a fun group - not all business. That’s challenging as I know almost every one of you is as deeply enthusiastic about our professional and subject matter as I am. My favorite interest group model stems from a local writer’s Meet-Up group we called "The Pub writers Group". In that spirit, I strongly encourage everyone to attend with the beverage of their choice, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic. I propose dedicating the first few minutes of every session to socialization before business. Let’s get to know one another. That’s why I wanted to keep the core group relatively small for effective zoom meetings – so PLEASE RSVP to meeting invitations so I can backfill with others if participation becomes sparse.
  • As founder of this group, I am representing myself and not that of my employer and I expect the same of everyone else unless explicitly stated as such.
  • There is no question that is too basic. We’re at various levels of knowledge and expertise. This group is about learning, sharing, and discovery. If a discussion takes us too far astray, we can either table it or push it to a forum post and continue there. Don’t be shy about starting such discussions in the forum either.
  • Being practitioner-run doesn’t mean providers aren't permitted. We can invite experts in the field from whom we can learn, ask questions, test hypotheses - whether they be vendors, consultants, educators, whomever. We will, however, make them useful to us, not allow them to become marketing opportunities.
  • One of the challenges we all face is we often don’t have the resources to build what we need - that which often doesn’t yet exist in the marketplace. My dream is that this group would directly influence the provider community to build the wares we need. As I said earlier, for far too long intelligent content was a “roll-you-own” proposition and almost destroyed it in its infancy. Let’s not make that mistake twice.
  • I am hoping we might see prototype work – whether on paper or functioning but doing so is not a pre-requisite to be part of this group. I encourage members of this group to take what they know and learn beyond your own shops and to conferences and webinars. Let’s get the intelligent content crowd off its stagnant duff.
  • Finally, be prepared to ask questions, be prepared to answer if you can, and do not fear embarrassment if you find yourself with vague or erroneous notions, assumptions, or preconceptions. Do not hesitate to ask anything for fear of sounding dumb – let’s be dumb; that’s how we get properly informed and smarter. A wise technical writing instructor once said, “Recognize and document your perplexities, because chances are others will experience the very same.” We’re going where few have gone before in our discipline.
A couple of suggestions about how we might kick things off:
  • Let’s get to know one another. Tell us about yourself professionally and personally.
  • Let’s get to know what each of us does in our shops. Share a profile of your operations and platforms if you can, and articulate here we think we are in the intelligent and semantic content continuum and going. We all likely have different views of this multi-faceted gemstone.
  • Let’s ideate on the array of applications we’re each envisioning with graph-driven content; the sky is the limit. Let's break out of what I call the “chatbot rut” - Let’s build an extensive list!
  • Admit what we find confusing and vague. Let’s create an inventory of questions. Let’s find out what we don’t know and need to figure out. We might not have answers straight away, but we’ll get them as we have access to those that can provide such knowledge. Let’s build another extensive list.
  • What are all the semantic assets we can conjure up that can provide the full range of semantic intelligence we might apply.
  • Let’s collaborate on the Semantic Content Maturity Model and evolve it.
  • Let’s survey the current technology landscape. We’ll discover which providers have advanced their wares and to what degree. Let’s find out where they are going and when they plan to get there, maybe even invite a select few to present, and then we'll grill them.
  • Let’s share any other learning resources, practical demos, patents, prototypes, books, articles, webinars – whatever helps advance our knowledge and goals.
  • Let’s keep it light and not formal – the goal is interactive discussions for discovery purposes. Let’s make it a safe and respectful place. Remember we are each coming at this from our own unique bubbles and perspectives.
  • At the end of each session, let's decide if this group ought to continue. I am not one for meeting just for the sake of meeting

As I said, intelligent content takes us only half the distance to our goals of realizing a decades-old dream of cognitive content. Let’s lead and move content from the failure side of the ledger to the success side - from creating, managing, and delivering only prescriptive failure-mode content, to creating, managing, and delivering dynamic, proactive, and truly personalization assistance, as a service, and at scale. Let’s stop creating content for everyone, but for no one in particular.

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