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The evolving informational exchange and the significance of structured content authoring

As technology development and enterprise needs rapidly shift in response to the modern world, information exchange strategies evolve and change at the same rate. This perpetual chase for modernity has completely upended what was once a paper dependent ecosystem; sharing knowledge has now necessitated methods like semantic tagging and open digital formats to make sense of its increasing complexity.

KMWorld invited Jan Benedictus, founder and managing director of Fonto, to investigate the future of structured content and its value in the process of modern information exchange during a webinar presentation.

A lot of processes are changing, Benedictus stated; this era of Content 4.0 and Industry 4.0 means that there are many formats, owners, deliveries, and publishers of content that permeates a myriad of content-producing industries. Unstructured content has become an inconvenient norm of many organizations as a result of modern data’s complexity.

Industries such as publishing, technical documentation, standards and regulation, and government institutions have been confronted with the burdens of unstructured content as early as the 90s. Being at the forefront of this format conundrum, these industries pioneered the shift from unstructured content to its structured alternative.

What drives organizations toward structured content is explained by Benedictus in three pillars: efficiency, value, and compliance. This format promotes single source, multi-channel publishing, automated formatting, dynamic publishing, and personalization; it generates repurpose-able and adaptable content, fine-grained content assets, metadata, and semantic tagging; and finally, it promotes content quality and consistency.

Diving into the meaning of structured content itself, Benedictus defined it as a collection of content assets and “raw material” that is stored in “structured XML,” which is not styled, but semantically tagged. An unstructured document consists of lines of content that is formatted for output, while in contrast, a structured document consists of nested units of content that are hierarchically organized and can be treated as “components.” The structured document is separated into “chunks,” which is fine-grained and allows users to reuse components in multiple contexts.

Semantics begin to have an effect when data is copied to a document; more often than not, most semantics get lost and the data is interpreted based on styling. That same document may have structured metadata attached to it, ultimately meaning it is not fundamentally part of the document itself. In a structured document format, that metadata is inherently recognized within the components that have been hierarchically organized and semantically tagged, not styled. These semantic tags, then, turn content into data.

While effective in theory, Benedictus recognized the need to see structured content in its successful adoption and practice. He offered three stages of what an organization that is shifting to structured content looks like: efficient authoring through a process of organization, review, and approval; document automation building from reused components; and finally, digital output, where organizations can publish documents and data sets in an integrated manner. With the help of AI, the structured content transition can be enhanced further.

Benedictus then introduced the audience to Fonto’s family of solutions, Fonto Editor, Fonto Content Quality, Fonto Document History, and Fonto Review. This collection of solutions, all operating under the Fonto Editor umbrella, make transitioning to structured content accessible and feasible for any organization. With semantic assistance, Fonto Editor connects to AI that interprets the text and returns necessary information to the author.

To learn more about the value, adoption, and practice of structured content, you can view an archived version of this webinar here.

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