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Karen McGrane: Content in the Zombie Apocalypse

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– I want to be clear about something. I'm not a futurist. I'm not here today to predict for you what I think the next big thing is going to be. If I could do that, I would be doing that full time. But I will guarantee you one thing, and it’s this: THERE WILL BE A NEXT BIG THING. And whatever that Next Big Thing is, we’re going to have to figure out how to get ourselves to work on it.

Karen McGrane kicked off From Business to Buttons with a great talk about the need to separate presentation from content. The mobile revolution has once and for all taken away the illusion that we can design for a specific visual format.

What might the next platform or format be, then? Karen’s tongue-in-cheek candidates covered smart-TVs, in-car systems, audio interfaces, Google glass (”actually, a Segway for your face”), other wearable head-up displays, watches, stadium scoreboards, digital signage, refrigerators, and finally,  toaster printers: with the (pun intended) burning question: Is your web site ready to be burned onto delicious toast?

The point, of course, is that the only thing that’s certain is that tomorrow will bring a veritable zombie apocalypse of new devices and new platforms and screen sizes and resolutions and input mechanisms – and it’s never gonna stop.

Therefore, the way people will produce content will have to change.
We have to innovate new publishing processes. The organisations that develop a truly device-agnostic publishing process – those are the companies that will survive the zombie onslaught.

What should a company start doing right now, today, to update their content, change their workflow, change their editorial processes and culture – so that their focus is not how to get ink on paper or html on a web page. How can they focus on how to put their content in a format so that it can be read and navigated on any future display?

These are the problem we are here to solve together.

Although Karen's presentation specifically was about content, I think that she in a broader sense actually summed up the whole of the conference in her talk. We truly don’t know what’s coming. That's true of coding, of sensors, of wearables, of product development, of AI, of design ... anything.

Tim Berners-Lee had no idea what the web would become. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs had no idea how their work would start a revolution. And we don’t know what wonderful things two other people are dreaming up in a garage  right now.

But it's our job to try to figure it out, to prepare for it, and to make the best of it.

At next year's From Business to Buttons - pre-register with discount here (non-binding)! - we will perhaps know a little more. And we will be ready to build upon the knowledge and insights from this year's all wonderful speakers.

All things Karen:

Karen on twitter: @karenmcgrane


Slideshare: Karen McGrane (including a fuller version of this talk)