Curation is increasingly crucial for finding the most important and relevant information on the Web. It's used to point out insights which would not have ordinarily been discovered in the wash of data that overwhelms us in our daily lives.
The concept of curation can also be applied to the often-forgotten world of product documentation.
In its latest release, MindTouch is banking on collaboration and curation techniques to make product documentation a strategic marketing asset, rather than an exercise in technical communications.
According to the company, the resulting MindTouch 2010 is the first product documentation environment to integrate what it calls "curation analytics" - a process that gives customers the ability to analyze their documentation by quality, relative age and its correlation to customer behavior, either in aggregate or by specific topics.
For most companies, product documentation is a desktop-oriented task. Manuals are created, and online they will often be static PDF documents. If baked into a website, they will remain there, written in static HTML.
MindTouch 2010 is a multi-user XML-driven editing platform which publishes documentation in a Web-based format and uses semantics to match content. Its engine provides the capability to adapt to customer behaviors, and the product is available on-premise or as a hosted solution.
As users contribute to the documentation, the natural language they use becomes part of what search engines discover. In turn, the product team can bring up information from the users to amplify messages.
Product documentation is another example of how a Web-oriented environment can transform processes that have languished for years in static repositories.
It's an approach that makes documentation more accessible. By leveraging the Web, users become contributors, not just consumers. The user adds a deeper level of richness to the documentation. Add analytics into the environment, and you can see how a continuous loop can form that feeds on the additional data, adds context and provides the curated results back to the developer and online, where it can be discovered.
Product documentation has been a desktop-oriented environment for decades. It has been primarily the domain of technical communicators, with the market served by companies like Adobe.
Can MindTouch 2010's curation analytics cause a deep enough disruption so that it is perceived as important enough to move from the technical world to strategic marketing?
The concept for curation analytics seems right. The big challenge MindTouch faces is convincing marketers that product documentation is important enough to merit their attention.
Disclosure: MindTouch is a sponsor of ReadWriteWeb. This post is not a sponsored post.