Ged Carroll

Site revamp

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I think you will spend 317 seconds reading this post

I have been going back through the content on this website as part of a site revamp. I conducted the content aspect of the site revamp while I created new content, did work and general life stuff. So it took a while as the content went as far back as March 2004.

site revamp of content

I ended up paring the number of blog posts down from almost six thousand posts to just under eighteen hundred. I deleted a few posts because in retrospect I didn’t have much to say. 

But the bulk of the posts that I deleted was where I was consolidating posts that focused on curating content from around the web, similar to this one

The primary reason why I was consolidating these posts together was link rot. Links that went out to dead sites and the pages hadn’t managed to be indexed in the Wayback Machine

So what did I learn from this content site revamp process? 

Ephemera

While the maxim that ‘everything stays somewhere online forever’ is useful life advice, it doesn’t accurately reflect the ephemeral nature of online content. Even many of the largest media companies seem to prune their older content on a regular basis. The exceptions to this seem to be the FT and the New York Times. 

Companies are usually really bad at handling their redirects from the now dead pages of old content. With zero consideration being given to context.  Of course, memes and revenge porn tend not to be as ephemeral unfortunately.

2014

2014 seems to have been a cataclysmic year for personal website content. Prior this year there were all kinds of interesting professional and corporate blogs being run. But in 2014, things seem to have changed dramatically. This seems to have occurred across sectors and specialisms. Companies seem to have given up on their content strategies. 

My current working hypothesis is that part of this was probably due to the rise of social media and a secondary aspect of this must have been the declining returns of on network and off network search engine optimisation.  I also think that at least some personal bloggers grew out of their sites. They probably found that their interests had changed, or no longer had time to write. I managed to avoid that fate for a number of reasons:

Finally, I think that there has been a decline in the spirit of generosity in the exchange of ideas. I am not sure if this is an increase in ‘meaness’ – though more and more content is now behind a paywall, or a larger decline in ideas.

I don’t think that Medium and LinkedIn have managed to plug the gap on brands and consumers looking to publish quality long form content for various reasons. Secondly, email newsletters while looking like the new blogs are likely to be equally ephemeral and may be a step backward in time; though I am still subscribed to listservs that I originally looked at in college. 

As I write this, even Facebook looks as if it has finally started on its downward slope to irrelevance , where it will eventually join former online titans like Geocities, Friendster, MySpace and Bebo. Facebook content is already largely hidden from the open web behinds its wall garden. The way things are going, It is likely to disappear completely in the next decade or so. 

The content site revamp brought home to me, the importance of having your own personal website, to have control over your content.  Looking back strengthened my belief in the advice that I gave Omincom’s David Gallagher four years ago

Why have a website as part of your personal online brand?

LinkedIn and Facebook don’t have the same agenda as you. Your content becomes a hostage to their business whims
It is hard for users to discover your content, Facebook and Google make it so
Even on Medium you no longer really own your content. It can’t be easily exported like content on the Blogger platform
Even in the world of Facebook, Google is still a reputation engine

Personal online brand (January 23, 2018)

Better notes

The content process that I went through on the site revamp taught me that I need to make better notes about the significance of a particular piece of content because years later I won’t have any idea why I’d saved it. I have been getting better at this over years, but I still need to do better.