I’ve just had a great conversation with a new Gilbane client (a really switched on bunch of folks) and one of the guys  used the expression “content vs conversation” when talking about the way content is shared in their organization.

How, like an awful lot of our organizations there is an awful lot of content residing in e-mail – and this has inspired me to reach for WordPress.

I’ve written about this on this blog before, in the context of the Green Content Management Machine:

[ referring to Records Management ] ..the huge duplication in most e-mail repositories and the savings his software was bringing to large organisation just doing that alone. These huge repositories of duplicated content affect the agility of an organisation – Outlook servers that take eons to backup and seemingly even longer to reboot – it strikes me that all this redundant data is like cholesterol in the arteries of large enterprises.

All true, but in this post I want to briefly explore the providence of our content – perhaps because I’ve been thinking about web governance and strategies a lot recently.

There is a collaborative stage before the start line of the content publishing workflow as the ideas start to form for that digital marketing campaign, that article, that press release or maybe this blog post. This stage typically has folks reaching for email and Word to work together to get a peer review, a sanity check or formal approval before it’s tipped into the content publishing machine.

This may not be that OK with the content management purist, but at least if the intention of that first email was to create web content – web content will burst out the other end and the fruits of these labors will be stored, managed. shared, findable, accessible etc (unless the first person – or their laptop – manages to fall under the proverbial bus). But, what if no-one thought of it as ‘content’?

What if they thought of it as:

‘the presentation that I am going to give sales’.

‘the colors for the new website re-branding’

‘some thoughts I had on the providence of content’

Then aside from the small pocket of folks that got the e-mail – it is lost.

Never mind that an Intranet is an efficient and green way to give 30 people access to a PowerPoint presentation– rather than store thirty copies… or maybe 60 if you include their local email folders… or 120 if you’ve sent them version 0.2 (sorry everyone I spelled the customers name wrong) or…. heck – what about 0.2_colins_comments…. here you go everyone here is _final.pptx…  That’s errmm… somewhere around 200 little bits of content, that say the same thing and still only 30 people can see.

Yes, never mind the shrinking ice caps as we cool server rooms full of duplicate sales PowerPoints…  these are the little bits of essential grease that ease the wheels of our organisations.

Does it matter that Doris wasn’t copied and had to call the agency to get the website branding colors? That Enrique the new Spanish sales guy wasn’t copied and had to reinvent the sales proposal (that we’ve just established there are 200 copies of)? Or that seven people are now sitting in meeting room A to discuss a HR policy that was hammered out five years ago by the previous team?

Of course it does… you need to decide what is content and what is conversation.

E-mail image by RambergMediaImages reproduced under Creative Commons  License.