Web content has a maintenance problem

I’ve been working with Web content since the mid-Nineties, and it has always had a content quality and maintenance problem. 95 out of 100 organizations I have worked with (and I’ve worked with some of the biggest organizations in the world in some 40 countries), they wanted to publish, publish, publish; nearly never to maintain. The Web is a launch-and-leave junkyard. And every year the percentage of content there that has simply been left to rot, it grows and grows. And this is what AI is fed on, so it is no surprise AI is a lying machine.

There’s an old saying: “There’s a book inside everyone.” Well, the Web let those books—and much, much more—out. A publisher once told me that for every 300 manuscripts he received, he published one book. On the Web, you can read those 300 manuscripts and all their notes and research multiplied by 1,000 million. It’s publish and forget at an unimaginable scale.

Why don’t organizations bother maintaining their content and data after it is published? Because to professionally maintain things would challenge the entire foundations of the technology-based approach to content and data. Content and data management software, search engines, and now artificial intelligence, are all based on replacing humans, or at the very least replacing higher-paid people like editors, with lower-paid contributors whose job is as a put-it-upper. You don’t need to pay people a lot who simply put stuff up on a website. The idea that you might now need a whole bunch of new humans to maintain the content that is already published, that idea cannot be accepted because it would challenge the whole business case of this technology. It would shake the foundations of the cult of technology innovation and progress.

We find the same sort of thinking among tech bros when it comes to social media. For years, they wrapped themselves in freedom engine propaganda, railing against the idea of moderation. However, their deepest fears were that if all this content was indeed properly and professionally moderated, it would be so expensive that there would be no way they could make their mega bucks. Like its predecessors, the whole purpose of AI existing is to reduce costs by getting rid of people. If it cannot reduce costs—and reduce them very substantially—its own enormous training and operational costs will expose it for the fraud and scam it truly is. It is a multistory fraud and scam. Step 1: To train AI, it must steal all the content it can find from artists, writers and content creators. Step 2: It must replace all these people by reproducing and imitating their work. Step 3: It must turn these people and others into customers, charging them for imitations of the content that it had previously stolen from them. The cherry on the cake for this mega AI scam is that once AI has digested all this stolen content, it will then be smart enough to create its own training content, thus finally achieving the ultimate goal of the modern digital technologist brother—replacing people entirely.

Maintenance, moderation and editing are also activities that, by their nature, are anathema to the move fast and automate things tech bro culture, because of their very messiness, humanness and resistance to easy automation and coding. Editing is indeed messy. It takes years of training to do it anywhere near right. It takes wisdom and maturity. Figuring out what to delete and what to archive, figuring out when a paragraph needs updating, dealing with suggestions and complaints, this is time-consuming stuff. This will slow down the relentless pace that all technology must innovate at because, well, those quarterly stock reports are not going to show growth without another injection of frenzied pace, and you’re not going to be able to fool everyone so easily without all the manic activity. The number one lesson a grifter learns at grifter school is to move fast, break things and, whatever you do, don’t give them time to think. That’s modern AI. That’s modern tech. Moving fast and breaking things and then inventing things that they claim will fix the things they broke, with the greatest benefit always being convenience and the sense that costs are being reduced and profits maximized. Frenzy, hype and mania—a grifter’s paradise. Developed at a frenzied pace by bruising egos and growth-hacking managers, who are willing to throw vast quantities of money, data, water, electricity and computer hardware at the problem of being first to market so as to gain that essential edge on their competitors. The killer instinct chasing the fast buck, with our environment as inconsequential roadkill.

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