Content Sprawl: Herding The Cats, Part 1

Herding Cats

The great thing about having a fully mature Read/Write web is the number of different ways that we can share the content we have crafted. But this can also be too much of a good thing.

Where Stuff Is, and Why

It’s not unusual for some item of interest to show up in various guises, at any of the following locations. We took a shot at lining them up, noting what key difference one place might offer versus another. No apologies for obvious omissions, here… We’re just making a point: there are reasons why people do things so many ways. (Feel free to change the chart…)

cats exie frame

Even more to the point, all of these options are so easy to use that a LOT of them get used, especially by anyone who has a frequent desire to get an audience for the content they have.

As a result, even though each event of content placement may be well-justified at the time, it is fairly easy to wind up with content scattered widely, outside of any overall plan.


What about your own files?

Do most people have that problem? No. The majority of the time, what we see above turns into someone collecting other people’s content, while people who are distributing it are fairly unconcerned about where it is.

But if you are a producer of crafted content, you care. You put effort into protecting the quality, relevance and best use of it.

And if you’re saving content, then you’re collecting it. Your collection is, essentially, the full set of locations you actually used to store the full set of items that you decided to save.

The problem occurs as those items wind up in locations that do not help us to keep track of them.

We “lose track” in several ways:

  • Forgetting whether we have a piece of content appropriate for current use
  • Revising and Re-purposing content at risk to earlier suitable uses
  • Duplicating content under different names at different places

These issues all make it more difficult to know that the right content item can be easily found whenever it is next needed.

What makes matters worse, folders also tend to go through these same risky changes.


Whether most of your content is on a cloud drive or is spread about across the web, you may recognize the challenge we all have in common when it comes to the usefulness of our collections.


The way out of the vicious cycle is to tackle disorganization up front. And the best time to do that is when using the content will be rewarding.

Our idea is that we should make organization easy enough to make content usage rewarding.

This means focusing on how and why the content is needed. To see how we do it, go to Content Sprawl: Herding the Cats, Part 2.