Our Networked Lives, Publishing and Semantic Technologies

Shrunk in our mobile devices, today’s interconnected global village is bringing exciting changes on many fronts, the transformation of the way we handle information being the most dramatic one.

constant connectivity illustration

The swelling amounts of data produced every day propel the rise of a new breed of publishers, ones who strive to adapt to the rapid social change and find the most appropriate structures and processes to enable content creation, publishing and distribution in a world of constant connectivity where data never sleeps.

Publishing in a World of Data

Just like by 1500 Europe saw the printing of more than 200 million books thanks to Guttenberg’s technological breakthrough, the spread of digital, networked, and mobile technologies is now resulting in ever-larger volumes of heterogeneous data streams across platforms. environments and devices. For yet another time, the way we produce, consume and disseminate information is transforming, bringing significant changes for the society.

from guttenberg to digital technology illustration

Looking at the world around us, BBC’s report The Future of News outlines three major transformations:

1. Being connected:
With even better connectivity people may expect news to find them, not the other way around. They will be able to get news from their own networks whenever they want to, and there will be many ways to access it.

2. Content everywhere:
Smaller and more powerful devices and wearable technology – phones, cameras, screens – will allow people both to create and consume high quality content more easily and more cheaply. News organisations will have big opportunities to innovate in digital content, from virtual reality computer 3D simulations to ‘robojournalism’ – stories written by specially programmed software. People will watch more video, as connectivity, screens and user interfaces get better.

3. Using data:
The challenge of using data effectively will be central – whether that means data about how our content is being consumed, making wide use of data sources in our journalism, or managing and structuring the data around our own content.

In such a dynamic environment, marked by ubiquitous data, connectivity and content, staying ahead of the game means being able to make the best use of content resources and to also manage them dynamically to meet the ever-changing needs of the audiences for information and entertainment. Having taken the leap from paper to pixels, publishers now have to implement the right processes and technologies as to handle data effectively and use it to design interactive experiences for truly engaged readers.

Semantic Technologies and Our Web-like Existence

Electronic media has incrementally woven its thread into the fabrics of how we discover and transmit information and knowledge. This made the task of a publisher more challenging.

multitudes of content illustration

Rich, absorbing stories, news, reports, insightful researches, scientific materials and all the other stocks of trade of publishing now heavily depend on the ability of a publisher to handle data in an interconnected way, allowing for the many permutations of content.

A story is no longer confined between bookends, but can coexist in a cloud of endless narratives. Suddenly the device becomes an interactive window for multitudes of content.

cit. Digital Publishing in an Age of Convergence Series: Innovation in Context, Lauren Sozio

Inevitably, traditional databases and tools aren’t capable of keeping up with the dynamics and intensity of data currents that make for a thorough, valuable, something more, reusable and platform-agnostic publication.


Simply put, because, designed for data that fits a predetermined schema, they aren’t flexible enough for complex data modeling and cannot fit the huge, constantly changing amount of heterogeneous, unstructured data all around us.

It is through semantic technologies that publishers are empowered to meet the growing need of the reader to know, understand and learn more, to get a 360-degree view of the world around them. As it is semantics that can offer cost-effective managing of multiple interconnections that evolve with time. And it is semantics that by default has the potential to map the web-like structures of our existence.

Semantics and the Art of Maintaining Content

In broad strokes, semantics is what makes possible to enrich resources with additional information (metadata), attaching machine-processable and readable meaning to them. In other words, semantic technologies are a way of harnessing data and a smart means to navigate the ocean of information signals and noise.

semantic technologies information noise illustration

Semantic technologies help organizations transform the way meaning is identified across diverse databases and massive amounts of unstructured data and also turn internal and external data into knowledge and value.


Unstructured content vs Multifasseted content asset

By attaching additional data to content and linking the resulting data pieces, a publisher creates a rich ecosystem of dynamically interconnected content objects (e.g. text, video, tags, concepts, terms).

In an age of information overload and minimum attention span, delivering accurate, filtered and well-structured information is vital. Producing and managing not just content, but semantically enriched smart content, allows publishers to better source, represent and make sense of large volumes of data. Semantically enriched content assets such as text, video, audio, graphics also mean data that is interlinked and connected as to meet the needs of different platforms, devices and users.

Linked Data for Richer Experiences

Linked data, that is interconnected machine-readable and processable information, improve content creation and consumption; readers are served the content they need and publishers are in charge of creating content in an efficient and future-proof way.

Seamlessly connecting people, places and ideas, metadata, not only makes for richer stories and accurate information but also opens opportunities for personalization and context for readers, combined with reduced the time and costs of authoring and editing new content for publishers. In a word, a win-win situation for audiences, publishers and advertisers alike.

Providing a universal framework to describe and link data, semantic technologies seems to perfectly suit our networked lives and the symphony of our interconnected existence. This is not a coincidence. At the very inception of the web (it started as a means for sharing links to documents) sir Tim-Berners Lee knew semantics is what will make the Web a powerful means for interaction, collaboration and knowledge sharing, best supporting our web-like existence. Now, the time has come for the publishing industry to align its processes and structures to the fact that knowledge is in the content assets of the best semantic datasets holders.

Teodora Petkova

Teodora Petkova

Teodora is a philologist fascinated by the metamorphoses of text on the Web. Curious about our networked lives, she explores how the Semantic Web vision unfolds, transforming the possibilities of the written word.
Teodora Petkova
  • “Everything’s connected.” Such a simple concept, yet so overlooked by the vast majority of marketers and SEOs. I presume, because they are so bogged down in how-tos and must-dos to just stay focussed on the why and what.

  • @kayakonlinemarketing:disqus maybe it’s the “inertia” from a formerly not so transparent web (world) that drives digital marketers. Thanks for your comment.

  • Rotimi Orims

    “Having taken the leap from paper to pixels, publishers now have to….handle data effectively and use it to design interactive experiences for truly engaged readers”

    Wise words!

    Might I add that we are discovering that this data-guided process ALSO gives power to those pixel publishers who still persist in pursuing their paper readers as well. 😉

  • Thanks for commenting here @rot@rotimiorimoloye:disqus, your “addendum” 🙂 is much appreciated. I agree, the smartest approach is using new technologies for century-old practices too. Yet, I am thinking, aren’t we to start following the opportunities these technologies offer, rather than shoehorn them for old approaches?

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