Sunday 4 July 2004


Hello and welcome to what is currently called "Brendan's Braindump" -- Brendan Quinn's thoughts about the world of content management systems, the techniques of teasing these systems into doing something that's actually useful to human beings, and generally the practice of managing content in enterprises large and small.

Basically I figured after more than ten years on the web, it was about time I got myself a blog.

Hopefully this one will be updated more frequently than my horrendous efforts on Advogato (wow! over three years of inactivity, is that a record?) and one on livejournal I think I created once but can't remember for the life of me... and for that matter my own website which is lucky to see an update every six months.

So why did I never update my blog/s before? I know exactly why. It's simple really. I never thought I had anything interesting enough to say.

I'm not like a lot of bloggers out there who seem to have the web equivalent of verbal diahrroea, enjoying the sound of their own voice (or is it the glow of their own pixels? or something like that).

I suffer from indecision -- or is it insecurity? From the paralysing thought that what I am now writing might be proven wrong tomorrow, derided in other blogs, laughed at by posterity. No matter what I write, I know that unless I believe in it unequivocally I will never be happy with it. And being a scientifically-minded sceptic, it takes a *lot* for me to believe in something unequivocally.

The other reason, which in a way is the same reason I guess, is that I am far too much of a perfectionist. I will spend way too long going back and editing everything I said, trying to make it read more fluently, grimacing at my woeful use of what is after all the only language I speak, trying to cram way too many ideas into way too few lines, and becoming even more obsessed with spelling and punctuation. I know blogs are supposed to be free form, conversational, and mostly unedited, but that's just not my way. I like structure, I like correctness, and I take the time to make sure things are right. Already I've lost count of the number of times I've deleted chunks of this post and re-typed them (including this very sentence).

So it's really taken me ten years to realise that these qualities can be seen as virtues, and if nothing else they make me different from most other bloggers out there. Hopefully it will at least end up that I say things with meaning, things worth reading. (Not so far, I'll admit.)

It's taken me ten years to realise that I actually have things to say, but they are still swishing around my brain, waiting to be released in a more permanent, more structured way. And the only way to get them out is to start writing about them. And a blog is as good a way to do that as any.

In a way I've been forced into doing this, because my job is now requiring me to think some more, and write some more, about what content management means and where it will be in a few years' time... Where will the world of web services, rich metadata, and peer-to-peer applications leave the still fairly push-centric world of digital publishing? What lessons can the relatively established practice of web content management teach the "serious" media and broadcasting companies that are finally waking up to truly converged, truly digital audio and video production? What new standards will emerge to guide us through this difficult process of making so many different systems, processes and people work together?

Of course you would think that being a full-time, self-employed content management consultant for a year during all of 2001 and part of 2002 would have forced me into thinking about what I stood for, and what content management really meant, but at the time it was revolutionary enough just to be someone who asked the right questions.

Now I want to start thinking about some answers.