A Month of Conferences
Inuksuk Shaped People

A Man of Content Sorrow

I am a Man of Content Sorrow

This will be a marked change of pace for me. A series of chance occurrences led me onto a fully quixotic quest to draft a set of lyrics for "content practitioners". It all started with an innocent tweet from an Ottawa Starbucks when I noted that they were playing that great song "I am a Man of Constant Sorrow" from the phenomenal movie "O Brother Where are Thou". I should say that any movie that offers an interesting variation on a story line from Homer and then adds an infectious soundtrack is going to win two thumbs up from me. And then Kai Webber chimed in with the idea that I might be talking about "I am a Man of Contents Sorrow". So we have Kai to thank for this digression. A neat idea though and one that clearly I could not put down. And in tinkering with the lyrics, I migrated to a slightly cleaner encapsulation with "I am a Man of Content Sorrow". 

So with no further ado, I give you...

O Brother Where Art Thou

I am a Man of Content Sorrow

(In content sorrow through his days)

I am a man of content sorrow
I’ve seen trouble all my day.
I bid farewell to old technology
The place where I was born and raised.

(The place where he was born and raised)

For many long years I’ve been in trouble
No returns here on earth I found
For in this world I’m bound to gamble
I have new ways to help me now.

[chorus] He has new ways to help him now

It’s fare thee well my old tools
I never expect to see you again
for I’m bound to use new content rules
Perhaps now we’ll work this way.

[chorus] Perhaps now we'll work this way.

You can bury me in some dark corner
For many years where I will design
Then you may learn to love structure
While we are moving business online.

[chorus] While we are moving business online.

Maybe your IT group thinks this is strange
A way to work they’ve not seen before.
But there is one thing that will change
We’ll make content deliver much more.

[chorus] We'll make content deliver much more

There it is worth watching the video for the song to help soak in the tune and to capture the special qualities that any live performance would need to take on. It seems inevitable that there will need to be volunteers to participate in a live performance at the next "content event". Naturally we will also need a complement of beautiful sirens. Improvements to the lyrics can also be offered, as the line taken here may only make sense to one person and he's not too sure about it either (as Hegel once famously said about his impenetrable body of work).  

The Soggy Content Boys

Now there is a connection between this song, and the movie it eminates from, and the quest to promote the effective use of open content standards, tools and techniques. Essentially, the story in both cases pits some irrepressibly articulate souls against a formidable law enforcement regime that has grown progressively more rigid and ruthless. I will confess that this is often how content initiatives feel, or at least those that genuinely seek to handle content well and to maximize the benefits that can be enjoyed from good content. We often succeed by escaping the controls that don't really apply to content and evading all attempts to bring content projects back into the fold of control-oriented systems.

It is appropriate then that the name Odysseus in Homeric Greek meant "bringer of trouble" and this is often how content projects tend to feel for those instigating change. In singing this song, we should be reminded each time that there are many foes that lie in wait as we follow our journey. It should also remind us that our quest is a just one and one that will ultimately succeed. 

Technology Chain Gang

While we are at it, we should probably introduce some of the characters in the movie that present challenges for our intrepid content innovators.

Long Arm of the Law
The Long Arm of the Law: The ever present drive to (re)establish control.

Homer Stokes
Homer Stokes: Executive upholding past practices that should really be left behind 

Polyphemus: The Powerful Player who only sees things one way

The Suitor
The Suitor: A competitor who offers a new form of control

The Sirens of New Content Standards
The Irresistable Sirens: The temptation to overindulge in new content technologies
The Other Side of the Jug reads "XML"


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OMG, I just saw this. So in addition to your smarts about technology and content, you're now a pop culture pundit? I love the stereotypes - you have hit the nail squarely on the head, my friend.

Marcia Riefer Johnston

Joe, What a hoot. I'm tapping my toes. When can we look for your album?

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