In the overly-large school system in which I work, we have a person in each school (and many offices) who is responsible for that part of the district’s web presence. Some of these "Curators" build and maintain the pages themselves while others have volunteers to help them. All, however, are doing the job as an extra, and very unpaid, duty.

Today we had one of our semi-annual Curator meetings at which we were told about all the wonderful features that are being tested for possible use system-wide. Like schools being able to take credit cards for purchases (through Pay Pal, no less) – but only for the PTA groups. Like email newsletters that can be targeted to people who opt into certain groups. Like being able to offer polls and surveys on the web (just send it to the office as a Word document). And a search tool that’s great at finding irrelevant material.

The person leading the meeting was asked about the possibility of using RSS to distribute school system information. I didn’t completely understand the response but it had something to do with that technology putting too much of a load on our servers. I’ll bet that came from one of our IT people who had no idea what RSS is (if it doesn’t have the Big Monopoly’s brand on it, our IT folks are clueless) and offered up garbage for an answer.

And so we have a billion dollar enterprise with hundreds of people constructing its web presence using everything from Netscape Composer on up, absolutely no content management, and tools from the previous internet era to communicate with the outside world. Most of our Curators do a remarkably good job with the tools they have to work with, but overall it’s a clunky system that’s very hit or miss. Welcome to one of the most wired places in the nation.*

* or so they keep telling us.