Are You Truly Managing Outdated Content?

Content management was always a joke. Data management was always a joke. It’s no laughing matter when there is misinformation.

Data is out of control. Content is out of control. In fact, data and content were never in control for the vast majority of organizations.

Content management was always a joke. Data management was always a joke. At best, we have data and content publishing and storage. Only a tiny fraction of organizations that I have dealt with in almost 30 years of working with web content and data made any attempt to professionally manage their data and content after it was published and stored.

Content’s That’s More Flash Than Substance

I want to present one example of how organizations mistreat their content. It’s from the WHO website. First off, I have worked with the WHO in the past. I know the core Web team has tried to do their very best, but the WHO website has two classical characteristics that militate against professional content management. It has distributed publishing responsibility. Thus, nobody is really in charge, particularly of content that has been published.

Secondly, the website has a traditional communications ethos. It’s about big stories and big images and making an immediate splash. Concepts such as metadata, navigation, classification, search are rarely given the attention they deserve. For example, I just searched on the WHO website for “Is COVID airborne?” I got zero results. Yes, zero results. That’s zero. As in 0.

“Early in the pandemic, the World Health Organization stated that SARS-CoV-2 was not transmitted through the air,” Dyani Lewis wrote for Nature in 2022. “That mistake and the prolonged process of correcting it sowed confusion and raises questions about what will happen in the next pandemic.”

Science magazine asked WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan in October about the slowness of WHO to admit that COVID was airborne. “We should have done it much earlier, based on the available evidence, and it is something that has cost the organization,” she admitted.

Related Article: Data at Work: Metadata Matters

Are We Managing Content for the Long Haul?

We all make mistakes, and while the WHO (and other government entities) were extraordinarily and excruciatingly slow in admitting COVID is airborne, it’s at least some progress.

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