The EContent team suggests some sites, projects, and resources that—while outside the scope of the EContent 100 list—are well worth taking a closer look at.
It takes a Village to raise awareness. The Content Village is an initiative funded by the European Union's eContent Programme in an effort to "support the production, use, and distribution of European digital content and to promote linguistic and cultural diversity on the global networks," according to its site.
The Content Village seeks to spread information and best practices through fact sheets of eContent projects, country reports, a resource database, a searchable events calendar, push services that provide updates on specific Content Village topics, a newsletter, a directory service, and an "eContent partner finding space." A variety of other services are also available and the Content Village plans to expand its offerings as the project continues. "The Content Village site is easy to navigate and visually appealing," says France-based EContent writer Heidi Gautschi. "Information is updated frequently and available in a number of EU languages" (an eContent Programme must). "However," says Gautschi, "despite Content Village's upbeat approach, the content itself remains dry. This, of course, is in no way Content Village's fault, but rather a byproduct of the EU structure."
Membership has its privileges, even for content management professionals. Members of the content management community joined together to form CM Professionals (CM Pros), which was founded in 2004 by 30 content management specialists spread across the globe. "In an environment where software vendors dominate industry messaging and underwrite most industry events, the founders of CM Professionals wanted to create an organization for individual professionals to share common experiences and best practices away from industry hype," says Tony Byrne EContent contributing editor and founding member of CM Pros. CM Pros has encountered a receptive audience and the original 30 members swelled to 70 within the first three days. The resultant organization held its first summit at the November Gilbane Conference on Content Management Technologies in Boston, where they planned to elect a new board of directors. CM Pros intends to work with standards organizations and graduate schools to help mold the future of content management and eventually hopes to establish local chapters as well. In the meantime, members have access to email listservs, discounted registration fees at relevant conferences and summits, access to online resources, a quarterly email newsletter, a job board, and educational opportunities such as workshops and seminars, in addition to a variety of other current and forthcoming perks.
"The content management portal" according to its tag line, Contentmanager.net launched March 1, 2004 as the English version of the German site Contentmanager.de, which has been a highly regarded resource since its launch in 1999. The site is produced by FEiG and Partner, an advertising agency that also offers services for the planning and implementation of Web developments for the Internet, extranets, and intranets. Contentmanager.net "provides a range of white papers on CMS applications and on intranets and extranets," says Martin White, EContent contributing editor. "One of the most interesting features of the site is the ability not only to select CMS vendors against specific criteria but to also compare them using a rather neat database functionality." The site enables visitors to browse details of products from a vast number of vendors, some of which are also available for evaluation via the comparison tool. Contentmanager.net boasts an audience primarily comprised of executives and corporate decision-makers and has partnered with a number of firms including Capgemini, Project Consult, and arvato systems GmbH. "The site is supported by a number of sponsors," notes White, "and this occasionally means that a user has to accept that, for example, only Meta Group market reports are highlighted. Just occasionally the translation from German to English is not quite correct, but the designer's English is better than my German!"
The past year has seen its share of ups and downs in the ongoing digital content copyright struggle. One organization used 2004 to continue its creative approach by helping to protect only those rights that creators want to protect. Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization, was developed to provide authors and content creators a set of flexible copyright offerings for a variety of mediums including audio, video, text, images, or education. "Creative Commons offers simple, legal ways for creators to make their works more useful and accessible without giving up all control," says Walt Crawford, an EContent contributing editor who's own Cites and Insights e-zine is published using an Attribute-Noncommercial license from Creative Commons. Creative Commons currently offers eleven different licensing options including: Attribution (others can use licensed work for most purposes, so long as they give the original author credit), Noncommercial (others can use licensed work only for noncommercial purposes), No Derivative Works (others can use licensed work for most purposes, but may not use any derivatives of that original work), and Share Alike (others can distribute work derived from a licensed original only as long as it is covered by an identical license to that which covers the original work). Although the wording can get extremely specific and complicated, it ensures that Creative Commons users can put together a package of rights that best fits their needs. "All in all," says White, "the organization's work makes it easy to contribute to a commons of material for new creativity, helping to restore some balance to copyright. It's a great concept—and it works." So well, in fact, that Creative Commons is even in use by other InSites, such as Flickr and Technorati.
Flickr is just plain cool. Building on the popularity of sharing digital photos and the exponentially increasing number of blogs, Flickr allows its users to take advantage of more mundane photography needs like organizing, sending, and sharing while adding a slew of more advanced features. Users can edit photos, add comments, establish levels of privacy, use a mobile version to view the site via a cell phone or handheld device, and create shared spaces where multiple users can post photos. But more than just being a fun way to exchange digital assets, the company takes an interesting approach to community taxonomy building. "Flickr is applying innovative taxonomic techniques to an unexpected and unwieldy application: sharing large numbers of photos via the Web," says Robert Boeri, EContent contributing editor. In addition, Flickr allows users to post photos to blogs and currently supports posting to Blogger, Typepad, Movable Type, LiveJournal, Manila, Atom-enabled blogs, Blogger API-enabled blogs, and Meta Weblog API-enabled blogs, or users are encouraged to create a Flickr moblog. Flickr is designed to be fully customizable, so users can establish the levels of privacy, involvement, chat, contact, or even copyright that works best for them. Flickr also encourages users to create tags for their content to facilitate searching and sharing, and since Flickr's user base is rapidly expanding and most images have multiple tags, "Interestingly, what Flickr is learning could end up influencing knowledge management solutions in unexpected ways," speculates Boeri.
"Gawker was one of the first to realize that the media loves media that analyzes the media," says EContent contributing editor David Scott. The Gawker site, with Jessica Coen currently at the helm, is a popular online pit stop, particularly for media types based in and around New York City (though other Gawker Media properties have sprouted up and thrived around the country). All supervised by publisher Nick Denton, the sites include Defamer, a look at the media and pop culture in the Los Angeles area; Kinja, the newest Gawker property determined to bring the world of blogging to a wider audience; and Gizmodo, a gadget blog that deftly melds irony, humor, and self-deprecation with an array of timely and useful information. "Several print magazines such as Brills Content and Inside Magazine have tried to make a go in this space and failed—it was the Gawker blog format that made the difference," according to Scott. "Now Gawker Media is expanding as a sort of incubator for nurturing blogs such as the wildly witty Wonkette," says Scott about the take-no-prisoners Washington, DC-centered blog. And, says Scott, "It's come full circle with the media that Gawker writes about now writing about Gawker. It's all in good fun, despite the tendency to overuse the F-word." In early October, Gawker Media further spread its wings when it introduced what has been described as the "testosterone trio." Jalopnik focuses on cars and took off like a shot with Audi as its exclusive launch sponsor. Kotaku's devoted to everything video game related. And Screenhead encompasses all that is tasteless, crass, and hilarious about frat-guy humor.