Why I Love to Manage Content

By Deane Barker on April 7, 2014

I love content.  I love modeling it, storing it, managing it, organizing it, searching it, and delivering it.

Why do I love this?  I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure that out. This is my best attempt, and I apologize in advance if it’s overly personal or dramatic.

Content is beautiful. It has a purity to it.  It has a soul – done correctly, content is information in a perfectly accessible wrapper, waiting to be consumed and used for some purpose. It’s potential energy, perpetually standing by, ready to be unleashed.

There’s incredible beauty in that, full stop.

But, even more importantly, content is the genesis of action, education, and change. Content informs.  People come away from good content with more understanding and perspective about issues that affect them.  Content enables them to consider a situation, question, or decision based on clear information and then act with purpose and clarity.

So, content is core to teaching. And there is joy in helping someone understand.  There is an amazing feeling when someone finds something they were looking for and finds a clarity they were missing. That’s a gift to that person.  More than that – it’s a gift to the world. We are better as a human race because of this moment. Moments like this move us all forward.

Our society depends on continual progress.  The information in content represents that progress.  The accumulation of information is how we get better as a species.  It’s why we have advances in medicine and science and history.  It’s why movements start and governments fall.  A population with accurate information is in a better position than a population without it.

You know that feeling when you type something into Google – no matter how obscure – and you see that someone has searched for it before?  Content provides that connection.  The fact that content for Topic X exists means that someone else had the same problem and also needed Topic X.  You are not alone.  Content unites.

The search for information is a cry for help.  No matter how inconsequential, it is someone looking to improve their circumstances by educating themselves.

The content manager is a matchmaker. The world is looking for content, and content is waiting to be found.  The content manager is the person who brokers that meeting.  The world is better when this happens.

*I want to be there for that. * I want to be the silent thing lurking in the background that someone thanks when they find what they’re looking for.  I want to be that source of happiness for them, however many layers removed, however faintly understood and acknowledged.

I am driven by the vision of people finding what they’re looking for, experiencing that happiness, educating themselves, and making a better decision sometime in the future because of it.

You don’t create content for yourself, you create it to be consumed.  By the same token, you don’t manage content for yourself, you manage content to make it easier for someone else to consume it.  Content is a service to others.  It is a service to the world.

I believe that the management of content is honorable. Managing content makes the world a better place.

When you manage content, you are a gear in a larger machine.  You are the volunteer passing sandbags down the line.  You are bridging the gap between those who create and those who consume.

In a perfect world, you are unnoticed.  You exist in service of the content, and your performance is measured strictly in how well you allow the soul of the content to be found, understood, and used by the consumer.  And in some small way, your performance in this role makes the world a better place.

This is the role I gladly accept.

This is why I love to manage content.

Comments (9)

Linda says:

this effective invisibility is also why, at least in those old, pre-electronic days, editors love to edit well.

Jake DiMare says:

Love the simplicity of this message and the site in general. I also love content.

Detroit Jenn says:

“I want to be the silent thing lurking in the background that someone thanks when they find what they’re looking for.” Yes!!!

Marcia Riefer Johnston says:

“The content manager is a matchmaker.” Lovely post. Thank you for this reminder of what all these miraculous technologies exist for.

David Rivera says:

This is awesome and true. Finding content that adds value to myself is always a great feeling.

Rahel Bailie says:

I wish we could pour this sentiment into the minds and hearts of every technologist working on content management systems and projects. Because then they’ll do the right thing instead of the technically expedient thing. Thanks for writing this.

Don Day says:

I thought of two things reading Dean’s homily: Alexander Pope’s sage, “A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring...,” and then Penn and Teller pleading into the TV camera, “You need Cheeses in your life!” Loved the post (why, yes, I am a Content Engineer), and am intrigued by the thought of Content as my higher calling – I’d thought it was Structure all along. How could I have been so wrong?

Vinish says:

The paragraph “Content is beautiful. It has a purity to it. It has a soul ... makes me resonate content with a child. We are engineers, strategists, architects and managers, much like we raise a kid. How well the content serves its purpose for its target audience... is strikingly similar to the question - “how a child grows and responds to variables and expectations”. It depend on how we raise it.

Roimata Baker says:

Great message. It’s about the content not the person who passes it on.