I Column Like I CM

Four and a half years of columns, on top of a couple of years prior studying content management systems at CMS Review, taught me a lot about how information is created, managed, and published today, especially on the web.
- November 2008 Issue, Posted Feb 09, 2009
In early 2008, I dropped my monthly online column for EContent, and this will be my last print column. I will focus my remaining time and energy on Information Philosopher and my I-Phi blog (http://blog.i-phi.org), an attempt to examine many classic philosophy problems from the standpoint of information.
- December 2008 Issue, Posted Dec 01, 2008
Working in groups with free online tools has become an American passion. In his great 19th-century, two-volume work Democracy in America, Alexis deTocqueville estimated that there were more independent associations in America than there were individuals.
- Sept 2008 Issue, Posted Aug 27, 2008
It is a truism that tools and technology are not the answer. Success depends on people and processes that make good use of those tools. The best content management system (CMS) may not help. As someone who has followed tools and technology for many years, I see a seismic shift away from monolithic content management systems to parallel distributed processing models that mirror the latest thinking in cognitive science about how our minds work.
- June 2008 Issue, Posted Jun 06, 2008
The toolsets alone can run to hundreds of thousands of dollars when a fully automated publishing solution is integrated with an XML CMS, such as those from Astoria, Vasont, and XyEnterprise, or integrated editing, styling, publishing, and CM systems from PTC Arbortext. Significantly, however, where free content management solutions have been driven by the open source community—who built the leading CMSs such as Drupal, Joomla, and Plone—the free structured publishing option for DITA is the gift of one of those large corporations: IBM.
- April 2008 Issue, Posted Mar 21, 2008
For those wishful thinkers who dream of corporate "knowledge management," few tools are more seductive than the enterprise wiki. In the idyllic wiki Web 2.0 future, all your mission-critical information will be easily accessible with a quick keyword search. What's wrong with this picture? We have plenty of evidence in its favor. Hasn't Wikipedia shown us all the way?
- January/February 2008 Issue, Posted Jan 25, 2008
The XML dialect of choice is the new DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture), developed originally by IBM and now an OASIS standard. Of the original twelve XML editors, eight now do DITA, and one new WYSIWYG XML authoring tool has entered the market that does only DITA.
- Posted Dec 04, 2007
For the past three years, my annual wrap-up of content management systems has mostly counted the exploding number of branded products, for sale and open source, on the world market—now nearing 3,000. This year, I want to focus on a handful that are doing things so well that they show the way to the future for all the others.
- December 2007 Issue, Posted Nov 15, 2007
XML has established itself as the preferred technology for exchanging data between web applications. Now it has earned pride of place as a document markup language, its original purpose.
- November 2007 Issue, Posted Nov 09, 2007
The content you offer about your product is key, but so is understanding how people will search for products like yours, so you can match keywords on your site with their searches.
- Posted Nov 06, 2007
I have been writing for some months about the many benefits of component content management and structured publishing. They include content reuse, multi-format, and multi-channel output from single sources, and ease of translation and localization when the components are translated and approved independently.
- Posted Oct 02, 2007
Less is not a bad thing. In fact, for those creating the reusable multilingual user-oriented content of today's websites and structuring the writing of today's corporate documents, the cry should be "Less is less."
- October 2007 Issue, Posted Oct 02, 2007
In these days of exploding numbers of podcasts and YouTube videos, companies everywhere and many small organizations are asking, "where do we get the interesting content to fill these new communications channels with our corporate messages?"
- Posted Sep 05, 2007
I went to the Blackboard World 2007 User Conference in July to see the latest developments in eLearning technology. With 2500 attendees from 40 countries, BbWorld included many users of recently acquired WebCT. The emphasis was on higher education and I found that large companies have training relationships with strong eLearning teams at nearby universities.
- Posted Aug 07, 2007
Making the business case for a technology change is primarily about your return on investment (ROI). To make the business case for structuring your content, you must align the many advantages of structured content with specific needs in your business or organization.
- July/August 2007 Issue, Posted Jul 03, 2007
This year is the tenth anniversary of the Defense Department's development of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model and SCORM is on its way to dominating the content marketplace for on-line courseware, both educational and corporate. SCORM is now managed by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, a part of the office of the Secretary of Defense, which now requires that all eLearning materials be SCORM compliant.
- Posted Jun 05, 2007
The localization industry is, by its nature, distributed worldwide. The best translators are native speakers living in their locales, though their knowledge of technical content means many are part of the brain drain from developing countries. Common Sense Advisory estimates that the global market for outsourced language services was $8.8 billion in 2005, growing at 7.5% per year. This is big business and localization has seen many revolutions in the technology used to move content to and from translators, each one improving speed and accuracy.
- June 2007 Issue, Posted Jun 01, 2007
April was a busy month for content management trade shows, each bigger than the one before, and each with an emphasis on multilingual content.
- Posted May 01, 2007
I have been trying to understand the past and likely future of topic-based authoring. This is structured writing of content in which you break down the content into topics or "chunks" which have a good chance of making sense when standing alone. Single-source structured content is more reusable and localizable.
- Posted Apr 03, 2007
I wrote this month’s column online. Normally I use Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, but the hard drive on my main laptop computer crashed and though all my document files are backed up, it will take some time to reinstall my applications so I figured, why not write about Google’s online office tools?
- April 2007 Issue, Posted Apr 03, 2007
There has been a buzz lately on the mailing lists of the content management community about "Component Content Management." The discussion was provoked by a 2006 issue of the Forrester Wave on Content-Centric Applications.
- Posted Mar 06, 2007
You may get what you pay for, but getting started with structured content creation using the new DITA XML standard has recently gotten a lot less expensive.
- Posted Feb 06, 2007
In a classic high school essay, you are asked to find the similarities and differences between two things. In your current job, you may be asked to compare and contrast content management systems, probably the one you are using now and the new one being promoted by the boss’s brother-in-law, or worse, the one already purchased by the boss and installed by IT.
- January/February 2007 Issue, Posted Jan 30, 2007
The holy grail of structured content is a tool that lets authors write their comfortable and familiar unstructured content, but which then auto-magically converts their text to structured XML when it is saved. But skeptics cite the old maxim “garbage in, garbage out" here. If every document is arbitrarily different, they say, there is no way it can be exported to useful XML.
- Posted Jan 09, 2007
The terms Information Architecture and Information Architect were first coined by Richard Saul Wurman, a real architect who created the theme for the 1976 convention of the American Institute of Architects. His theme was The Architecture of Information. Twenty years later, Wurman solidified the essence of his vision with the 1997 book Information Architects, which documented the work of twenty leading designers of illustrations, diagrams, publications, software, and exhibits.
- Posted Dec 05, 2006
In EContent’s 2005 year-end roundup of the Content Management System marketplace, I (amazingly) found 1,879 distinct CMS products listed in 20 directories around the world. I have received dozens of requests for my spreadsheet listing all the CMS tools and a second spreadsheet of their most common features, which is being developed as part of the CMSML project (a markup language to help describe and evaluate CMS capabilities).
- December 2006 Issue, Posted Nov 22, 2006
Publishing your content is not the last stage in the content lifecycle. For user-centered designers, in many ways it is the beginning of great content and services.
- Posted Nov 07, 2006
YouTube’s tagline, “Broadcast Yourself,” signals the beginning of a new era in digital content, though the necessary production technologies and distribution infrastructure may still be a few years off. The wide acceptance of blogging as a means of self-expression was the first wave of personal content. The second wave, riding on the phenomenon of iPod and iTunes, is personal podcasting. The third wave, which will dwarf the others in gigabytes of content transferred, is personal video or individual television. Variously called vlogging, vidcasting, or vodcasting (the marriage of video on demand and podcasting), I’ll simply call it iTV.
- November 2006 Issue, Posted Nov 07, 2006
In a past column, I looked at content globalization, which includes internationalization (getting a site ready to handle multilingual content), localization (adapting to the culture and language of each locale served), and translation (including workflow tools to manage the translation process). Now I'll take a look at publishing content to many locales.
- Posted Oct 03, 2006
In a follow-up to their landmark publication The Digital Classroom: How Technology is Changing the Way We Teach and Learn, the Harvard Education School noted that essentially all the K–12 classrooms in the U.S. have been wired (though many still have slow dial-up connections). So here, the “digital divide” is fast disappearing, from a pure technology standpoint. For the world as a whole the picture is not so uniformly bright. Asian countries like Korea and Japan have even greater connectivity than we do, while Africa, the Near East, Latin America, and Caribbean countries lag way behind.
- September 2006 Issue, Posted Sep 18, 2006
In my recent review of XML editing tools, I looked particularly at their support for DITA, especially integration of the DITA Open Toolkit. The DITA OT is a reference implementation of the OASIS specification for “ready-made metadata” in the DITA DTDs and Schemas. Why is the DITA OT important and likely to affect your choice of a CMS in the near future?
- Posted Sep 05, 2006
Where does content management end and community management begin? For some IT diehards “everything is content,” including human resources data that tells all about every member of an organization. For others, content is about text, whether online documents, structured XML files, posts to weblogs, or attached multimedia files, like audio and video podcasts. Stuff about people does not belong in a content management system (CMS).
- Posted Aug 01, 2006
More and more often I hear clients who want a new website saying, “Why can’t we use a wiki?” or “shouldn’t we just start a blog?” This is particularly true of businesses and other large organizations that already have significant websites but aren’t satisfied with them for some reason or other.
- Posted Jul 11, 2006
One of the great things about technical journalism is getting to talk to the people who are making the tools of tomorrow and thus changing the way we work. It’s also an opportunity to take the tools out for a spin. In this issue, I do my first comparative review of content-creation software XML Author and Developer tools.
- June 2006 Issue, Posted Jun 13, 2006
Personas and Scenarios are powerful new tools in the content management toolbox to enhance the user experience of interacting with your content, especially web content that includes any form of interaction.
- Posted Jun 06, 2006
You need people and processes, content flows, and a content lifecycle. If you have these things, most of the top tools will do a terrific job for you. But it's not tools and techniques that create the content and its organization, make it usable, credible, and desirable, in short make it into valuable knowledge that is actually used.
- Posted May 02, 2006
OpenOffice is a suite of free office tools originally developed as StarOffice for Sun Microsystems to compete with Microsoft Office. Microsoft and Sun have both developed XML support for their office suites, with major implications for managing structured content. Advanced content management systems allow contributors to edit in standard office documents, and XML simplifies the ingestion of that content into a CMS
- April 2006 Issue, Posted Apr 10, 2006
Content Management Systems are only ten years old and yet there are already over two thousand types of them on the market. At the low end of the multibillion dollar CMS business there are weblogs, wikis, forums, and news portals--often called CMS-Lite. At the high-end are enterprise content management (ECM) systems, which integrate management of documents, records, customers, and expert knowledge, as well as provide ecommerce support. In either case, we need to structure information in these CMS to create the best interactive user experience. What are the differences between the Big CMS and the Small ones; and do they matter to optimizing the user experience?
- Posted Apr 04, 2006
I must admit that can I not begin to count the myriad ways that content is input--created, captured, converted, and automatically ingested into today's content management systems. With multi-channel, multi-format, and multi-lingual publishing, the full matrix of paths through to the system output is daunting, to say the least. However, there is one thing that all content inputs and outputs appear to have in common today: XML.
- Posted Mar 07, 2006
Globalization, Internationalization, Localization and Translation are all terms that describe making content readable in the world marketplace. Our CM Professionals community has chapters around the world and hopes to translate its Web site navigation and some content into several languages for outreach to new countries, but the challenges are formidable. So, what is the best way to manage a content globalization project?
- Posted Feb 07, 2006
Want to try for yourself a new information retrieval method that is powerful yet very simple to understand and implement? One that will affect everything from enterprise search to your own desktop search? Follow these simple steps . . .
- January/February 2006 Issue, Posted Jan 20, 2006
Keeping Found Things Found is a multi-year project at the University of Washington Information School by Professors William Jones and Harry Bruce, with Susan Dumais of Microsoft Research. The team is studying the various ways people attempt to make interesting Web pages they've found easily accessible later.
- Posted Jan 03, 2006
Major highlights of the Fall 2005 Gilbane Conference on Content Management Technologies and the accompanying fourth international Summit of the CM Professionals community of practice were both educational and entertaining.
- Posted Dec 06, 2005
It's really a jungle out there in the Content Management System space. For the past couple of years, I have attended the Gilbane Conference in Boston and reported on the number of CMSs listed in various online directories, like the Google directory, Business.com, the Yahoo! portal, etc. There are well over a thousand systems listed, perhaps even two thousand. I myself edited several hundred entries in the DMOZ Open Directory Project (which has more than 1,000 in its various subcategories) and in my CMS Review (with a few hundred).
- December 2005 Issue, Posted Nov 16, 2005
One of the mantras in the CM profession that is right up there with “Separate the content from the presentation” is the hard rule, “It’s never the technology, it’s the people and processes.” Most of the rest of us think of a CMS as software that helps people implement their processes, especially processes that involve digital content. But there is good reason to think of the software itself as involving three groups of very important people and processes.
- November 2005 Issue, Posted Nov 14, 2005
Nearly ten years ago, Peter Pirolli and Stuart Card, information scientists at Xerox PARC, compared humans seeking information on computers and the Web to animals foraging in the wild for food. They equated clues that lead animals to food (usually their noses picking up a scent) to clues in a Web page that might lead to what they called information patches. “Informavores,” they called us content foragers.
- Posted Nov 01, 2005
When can I do some XML with you? Adapting and reusing this Beatles lyric for our theme works best in the UK, where Rita rhymes with Meta and DITA; It’s a stretch in the US, where Meta sounds like better and DITA sounds bitter.
- Posted Oct 04, 2005
The most well-known content management books, reports, and organizations describe various numbers of stages, or phases, of the content management process and lifecycle. While the experts differ somewhat on specifics, aspects of these stages are universal and those seeking to make a CM investment best be prepared.
- Posted Sep 09, 2005
How did an IP squabble lead to the first podcast? And why did Jenny Attiyeh quit radio and TV to create her own show on the Web? Well, it all began with the third international Open Source Content Management (OSCOM) conference at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society in the spring of 2003. Dave Winer, the creative genius and enfant terrible of the blogosphere, was invited to give the keynote address to a couple hundred OS CMS developers from all over the world. As the architect of several Web standards like XML-RPC, SOAP, and RSS, Winer garnered enormous respect from his developer audience.
- September 2005 Issue, Posted Sep 07, 2005
Where are all the Web Services we were promised a few years ago with the blossoming of so many new protocols in support of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)?
- Posted Aug 02, 2005