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March 14, 2005


Ross Gardler

I agree 100%, but would like to make one clarification about my own message, which you refer to:

You say:

"But editorial control is something else and there we part company. It is the attempt by businesses to control the "message" that is inherent in the content that makes us most suspicious and it is that very dynamic that is already being broken by the technology and its users."

I say "Editorial Control" does not necessarily mean "Censorship". I do agree that it *can* mean censorship. Where it does I would be in total agreement with all your points.

However, an Intranet site (and in many cases an Internet site) are informational resources. The quality of this information is vital and the truth of the blogsphere is that the vast majority of it is not good quality. Automated and uncontrolled linking across this dross reduces the quality of my content. Look at SlashDot - it used to be a good resource, now it is full of ill-informed comment (at least in my opinion).

You say:

"Good content management tools are essential, high quality content (is it true, is it accurate, is it interesting to read?) is absolutely essential. But editorial control? Forget it."

I say ensuring that you have true, accurate and essential content is part of the "editorial control" process.

Just to reiterate though, I am in agreement that censorship should not be part of the editorial process.

It's a very fine line, but if our editors stray off the line and start censoring the power of the blogsphere will soon show up the truth. No amount of editorial control in a central publication can bring the whole network down.

Hi Ross.
I agree, that censorship is a waste of resources and a dead end. I was thinking more along the lines that Editorial control is about the message rather than the content. The editorial pages of any given publication have always been the place to exercise that control by conditioning the message. "You read the facts on page one, [ALL of the facts? Well some selected facts. Selected by whom, and why?] now let us tell you what they mean". That kind of editorial control.

In fact, I tell anyone who will listen, that the Internet is all about control, and that it leaks everywhere.

In the case of content management tools and the processes they support, I would much prefer that we replaced control with some other idea such as authentication.

By that I mean something like the true, accurate, interesting trilogy I used above. If someone on the staff is breaching those standards, then the editorial process should be fixing the problem. On second thoughts, lets swap out editor and call it quality control. As long as the content is an interesting story, effectively told, based on checkable facts, truthfully represented, then I say it clears the bar, get it out there.

Ross Gardler

"I was thinking more along the lines that Editorial control is about the message rather than the content."

OK, I understand, I was coming from the perspective of a website that wants a finely tuned message. This doesn't neecsarily mean "my prodct is good, yours is bad" type messages. It could mean "this is what people think we need to do to tackle poverty in the devleoping world" type message.

I'll give you an example of where content editing would be useful in such a situation. Today I followed a trackback from an article about AIDS in Africa. The trackback added no value whatsoever and instead quoted a line from a song that happened to mention AIDS. A complete waste of my time, and anyone elses who followed that trackback.

You go on to say "I would much prefer that we replaced control with some other idea such as authentication"

I guess we are in agreement then :-)


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