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Intelligent Content 2009 Review from RL Hamilton

Here is an excerpt from a review of IC 2009 from R.L Hamilton, author and content managment consultant (

"Among the session tracks, I found the most interesting to be a session from James Michelson, who I also had the opportunity to speak with a couple of times during the day. His point, simple, but often ignored, is that everything a technical communicator does should be measured by how it contributes to a company’s bottom line.

His business is marketing, and his talk focused on how you can use even small amounts of information about customers or potential customers to create marketing that is much more likely to generate a response. At first, it seemed strange to have a marketer as a speaker at a conference for technical communicators, but in the end it made sense. Like it or not, technical information is part of your company’s marketing message, and therefore, it makes sense to tailor content for your customers, based on their interests and needs.

In his view, most companies focus way too much attention internally (85% in his view, which feels roughly accurate, though he did not back that number with hard data). He would reverse that number, paying 85% of your attention externally.

Overall, I took away several points from the conference:

  • Intelligent Content is more than just well-marked up content; it is really the combination of content, information about the potential consumers of that content, and processing that gives that user the greatest possible value from that content.
  • Technical communication as a discipline is too often relegated to being a cost center. To continue to be successful, the discipline needs to take charge of the value in its content and deliver that value in a way that contributes to the organization’s bottom line (that bottom line could be profit for a commercial entity, or some other value for a non-profit).
  • The prevailing current technology is XML, but the technology is less important than its application.
  • The application of technology needs to serve external needs; if it can’t be tied to an external need, then why should the organization spend money on it?

I found the conference to be valuable, and I hope The Rockley Group continues to sponsor it in coming years. I got a lot of interesting ideas, including the topic for my next book (more on that in future posts), from the conference, and I look forward to attending again in the future."

From the Managing Writers Blog by author and XML expert R.L. Hamilton.  The full review is located at  See his website at for more information.


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