Two months ago, we got the pleasure to welcome the one and only @karenmcgrane to the eZ Conference stage. It’s not the first time we crossed paths with Karen. The advocate for adaptive content that she is, Karen is always sharing insights and provocative commentary that not only interests many of us at eZ, but also informs how we’ve developed eZ Publish and eZ Platform. Karen has many fans in the eZ ecosystem and we are always happy to invite her to our events and listen to her spread the adaptive content gospel.

Karen McGrane

When I first listened to her 2012 talk, “Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content”, I knew immediately she was driven by the same ideas and principles we had in mind at eZ when we built eZ Publish as one of the first, if not the first, channel-neutral CMS 15 years ago. I also knew we were fighting the same battle, a battle that might have different names such as the chunks vs the blobs or the battle for the body field. (By the way, I am truly unsure if we first spoke about “creating content once and publishing it everywhere” after listening to Karen’s talk, after reading the first blog post on COPE at NPR or if we arrived there before by another path. But it doesn’t really matter, what matters is that we were all going in that direction and that it’s a solid one we’ve been following continuously, not just a trend…)

So without further ado, here are three reasons why you should watch Karen’s 2015 eZ Conference keynote, “Adaptive Content, Context and Controversy”:

1. Because it’s highly educational

When talking about Web design, the words responsive and adaptive are on everyone’s lips these days. It’s been the case for a while. Still, it’s one of these topics that everybody speaks about while only a few understand what the terms really mean. The first third of Karen’s talk is a very educational explanation of what responsive design is and how it compares to adaptive design and the “m-dot” approach (that many actually mislabel “adaptive”).

This talk will surely help you shape or refine your understanding of adaptive and responsive design, and if you disagree with any parts of her explanation, please don’t miss the occasion to comment below, and we’ll give Karen a heads up.

2. Because it’s highly opinionated

Yes, that’s also why we like Karen, because she has opinions, strong ones, and she  stands by them. We like that about her. She is always energetic and respectfully defiant on stage, like when she was speaking about Content in a Zombie Apocalypse at re:\VISION Boston.

If you don’t share the same opinions, and don’t believe what makes the Web great is when it really is “One Web” in the sense of the W3C’s mission, please comment below.

3. Because it’s highly controversial

And yes, standing for one’s own idea is cool, but it’s even cooler when you don’t only look at your thoughts but look at others’ opinions, and don’t shy away when they clash or diverge. The whole content management / digital experience / customer experience / marketing technology software industry tends to be excited about the idea of implicit personalization, one where the marketing solution provides users different content depending on the context, without the users asking for it. It’s of course a very tempting approach from a marketing perspective but it’s good to hear an authority like Karen taking a strongly opposing stance. And yes, we would definitely love to invite her and @sliewehr to a panel discussion to discuss context-driven content personalization, maybe together with some Netflix folks.

If you haven’t seen Karen’s talk, watch it below!


We want to hear from you!

Adaptive design vs responsive design - what do you prefer? How do you feel about “One Web”? Do you think systems should ask users what content they want to see instead of trying to guess the context and using this together with user behaviors as cues? Add your comments below.

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