The progress of content

January 8, 2008

I’m just helping Brian Kelly author a paper on Openness in Museums for the Museums and the Web conference later in the year. It just stuck me that the movement of content around the web has followed / is following a pattern a little bit like this:

Phase I: content held as HTML within sites. Little or no interoperability. Content mostly viewed “on site”

Phase II: content held as XHTML within sites. Better markup means better SEO. Better SEO means that content starts to find its way out to the wider web

Phase III: content held as XHTML but also key bits of content (news in particular) syndicated out via RSS

Phase IV: content held as XHTML/XML; key segments syndicated via RSS (and some RDF) but additional movement of data via some “islands” of additional functionality such as API’s.

Phase V: content held as XHTML/XML, some/all syndicated via RSS, RDF, API’s but additional standards (oAuth, OpenSearch, Microformats etc) begin to ensure further interoperability between disparate sites

It’s a bit of a brain dump and please feel free to take it apart in the comments, but I thought I’d share it with you :-)

I’d say most big commercial sites are firmly at Phase III but moving towards IV; museums are mostly at Phase II but moving (slowly!) towards Phase III…