By Nick Ruffilo
Being a metadata evangelist, I often say the same thing over and over to a similar group of people who all seem to get what I’m saying but ultimately never change. I am not alone in this, but we evangelists continue preaching because we know that we have good information and our ideas can benefit publishers. Most importantly, we (minus the few who are pushing their consulting services) aren’t selling anything. There is nothing wrong with an info session/sales pitch, honestly presented, but when your event is sold as “Single Content Strategy for E-books, Apps, and Print,” you should at least serve some meat. Maybe I’m too much of a techie, or misread the audience, but a presentation in the tech devices hotspot should assume some level of competence.
I did get to play some buzzword bingo, having heard “paradigm shift,” “content transformation,” and “XML”(roughly 25 times). The key idea was to figure out how to compartmentalize content so that users can consume it in whatever format they like. There was an interesting message but no answers on what makes a good atomic piece of data—just a lot of talk. Most disappointing was the second-to-last slide, which informed me that the last 30 minutes had been spent watching a sales pitch for XML conversion from what billed itself as a “content transformation company.”
Judging by the information in the slides, it was geared toward publishers who are completely lost. Open note to future presenters: Teach me something. If you want to say the same thing everyone else is, great—but add to the conversation. Say something new. There are tons of panels and presentations and I’m giving you my time; reward that with a good presentation that actually informs. In fact, you are welcome to sell your product as long as you explain how it works and why there is a need for it.
(This story originally appeared in the Publishing Perspectives show daily at the Frankfurt Book Fair on 7 October 2010. Download the complete show daily here or click on the image to view the online version.)