Jeff Eaton: Content Modeling – Episode 100


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Content Strategy Insights


Jeff Eaton Jeff Eaton looks at content modeling two ways, both the traditional boxes-and-arrows way and the title-case Content Modeling way. Thinking about how you'll structure and organize your content will always be important. But the real power of content modeling emerges when it rises to a higher level and accounts for the shared understanding the people across your organization have of your content. Jeff calls this more sophisticated approach "The Content Model." We talked about: his work with Karen McGrane and Ethan Marcotte at Autogram his definitions of content modeling: 1) a relatively simple boxes and arrows approach and 2) The Content Model, a higher-level, big-picture look at your content and the shared understanding of it in your organization "what we talk about when we talk about content modeling" the truth behind the old joke that "the real content model is the friends we made along the way" the inevitability of spreadsheets in content modeling work some of the benefits of content modeling: communicating consistently across different teams getting clarity around how to structure content for various end uses how taxonomy and ontology practices can help bring order out of chaos the lack of agreement among content modelers about standards in modeling terminology the importance of stepping back and thinking about what you want your content modeling to do for you Jeff's bio Jeff helps large organizations understand, model, and manage their content. Whether he’s fixing problems with CMS architecture or editorial workflow, his solutions sit in the overlap between design, communications, and technology. Jeff’s website is He can also be found online at Twitter and LinkedIn. Video Here’s the video version of our conversation: Podcast intro transcript This is the Content Strategy Insights podcast, episode number 100. You can look at any organization's content through two lenses: either as a fairly simple body of work which you can contain in boxes and connect with arrows, or as a complex and nuanced ecosystem that shows the shared understanding of your content across your organization. Jeff Eaton finds value in both approaches to content modeling, but his most impactful work always includes a rigorous and robust accounting of the systems that drive the content. Interview transcript Larry: Hi, everyone. Welcome to episode number 100 of the Content Strategy Insights Podcast. I'm really happy today to have with us Jeff Eaton. Jeff is a partner at Autogram, the legendary new digital agency along with Ethan Marcotte and Karen McGrane. But welcome Jeff, tell the folks a little bit more about what you're up to at Autogram. Jeff: Well, it's a pleasure to be here, especially for the monumental 100th episode, the entry into triple digits. So at Autogram, we're basically a consultancy agency. We focus on organizations that are building and maintaining complex content systems, communications oriented systems, and are facing challenges both with their governance models, how to transition from a rigid template-oriented approach to a more fluid compositional approach, and how to grapple with questions like transitions to decoupled and headless approaches and omni-channel and multi-channel stuff, and the role of design systems and what they're doing, that cluster of interrelated concerns is something that we've found as very rarely being dealt with holistically. But you start talking on one of them and yeah, the sweater starts unraveling and you find out that they're all related. Larry: No, the way you just said that and it's not like they're buzzwords, those are actual things happening in the discipline . . . to handle content, right? Yeah. We were talking before we went on the air and we were getting a little worried, this could go forever, but today we're going to focus this part of the conversation on...