by on April 13, 2005

The content mapping monster has started its onslaught, and mother I can feel the soil falling over my head.

This week, I have been doing what must rank as (I hope) the most uninteresting task of my career ever. Well, there have been others like it but I’ve erased them from memory leaving only some familiar brain patterns behind: an urge to read Das Kapital, clock watching, tea-making fixations and suicidal thoughts. For almost three days solid, save for a meeting to review the results of user testing today, this is what my screen has looked like. Like a slow train wreak, we saw it coming, but were powerless to stop it. What’s worse, despite the fact that it’s only due to last until Friday, I fear The Monster will return at regular intervals during the rest of the project to satisfy its lust for power. May the Lord have mercy on our souls.

Surely, what is a “content management system” if wretches like me have to do this work? One day, people will see that they’ve been duped and rise up against the perpetrators of such systems who will rightly burn in hell for all eternity.


The sheer scale of the job caused it to implode. After originally having two man days to map the whole site, this was revised to give us eight man days and to do only the products pages (perhaps about half the site). So we boldly strode through as best we could while I brains were seeping out of ears with boredom – and achieved about a tenth of it. At a somewhat sombre conference call on the projected delivery day, it was decided to try a different approach. Only map down to the “navigation nodes” (roughly equivalent to the child pages of hubs) and not anything beneath. This meant we finished the task with only two extra days of work. The trouble is, this means that about 80% of the content isn’t being mapped, since most of it exists beneath parent nodes. Was all that work useless? Will they see sense and realise that if they are going to maintain a website then somebody has to take total, ongoing and unconditional responsibility for the content?

We shall see…

The Final Act – maybe
So they reaslised that when I said “about 80% of the content wasn’t being mapped” that indeed, 80% of the content wasn’t being, well, mapped. I happened to be away on training when they realised this, so in my absence was hatched a cunning plan (of course, it was what we were “always supposed to have done”).

This was to complete the work by “mapping” the content against each product in a different way. This time, we pretend that any node of content type “binary,” “editorial” or “link” that mentions a product name at all automatically gets the new node number for that product. No time wasting stuff stuff like trying to work out if that node is actually relevant to anything, or whether it should belong in the new structure at all. This enables us to semi-automate the procedure, and bingo! Success!

We hope.

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