#techrakingcir: The Future of the CMS

Today, I’m down at Google in Mountain View at Techraking, a gathering of technologists and investigative journalists. It’s been super inspiring because of the fresh to me perspectives — I’d love to help Portland media outlets with projects like those I’ve heard about.

At lunch, I learnt I was to lead a small group breakout on “the future of the CMS.” To keep the discussion going, we started out by brainstorming the things we liked and want to improve our respective software, and then did a roundtable to identify our six month personal goals.

Some things people like about their CMS:

  • Drupal done well is easy to use; there are a ton of modules
  • Affordability, open source is cheap
  • Community to work with
  • Many different homepage templates to choose from depending on the stories of the day

What people would like to improve (lots of conversation, as expected):

  • Data portability
  • More headless; produce output other than HTML
  • Scalability, faster when many people are working in the admin
  • Less steps for completing common, simple tasks
  • Integration with story budgeting, calendaring; API for story flow
  • Magical WYSIWYG editor; auto-save that works; track changes
  • Support structured data / semantic markup
  • Customization for story layout
  • Small pieces loosely joined; better integration with other services

Given the short notice, I thought the breakout session went quite well. About twenty people showed up. In terms of what worked:

  • Small group discussion; knew enough backgrounds to call out different people to talk
  • Noted salient points on the whiteboard as a way of plotting direction
  • I enjoyed the “what are you going to work on in the next six months” takeaways at the end

Next time, we should:

  • Figure out the location ahead of time so we don’t waste time finding it
  • Have people introduce themselves if they haven’t spoken yet
  • Every fifteen minutes, have something for everyone to participate in so people don’t check out

Today’s two WordPress.com VIP launches: PandoDaily and Grist

Today, MLK day even, two new sites launched on WordPress.com VIP that I’m personally pretty excited about.

PandoDaily

PandoDaily is a brand new tech site started by Sarah Lacy, former senior editor at TechCrunch. From her announcement post:

We have one goal here at PandoDaily: To be the site-of-record for that startup root-system and everything that springs up from it, cycle-after-cycle. That sounds simple but it’ll be incredibly hard to pull off. It’s not something we accomplish on day one or even day 300. It’s something we accomplish by waking up every single day and writing the best stuff we can, and continually adding like-minded staffers who have the passion, drive and talent to do the same.

So… this sounds like a newer, better, and fresher TechCrunch starting from scratch. And she’s recruited Michael ArringtonMG SieglerPaul Carr and Farhad Manjoo as regular contributors. Props to Sara Cannon for pulling off the design.

Grist

Grist, a non-profit environmental news publication, is near and dear to my heart. It’s why I’m on the technology side of publishing instead of photographing in the third world. In summer 2007, I worked an awesome web production internship where, in exchange for a bit of copy and pasting into the CMS, I had the freedom to explore publishing on the web and to start developing my skills. That was back in the days of Bricolage; Grist has since been on ExpressionEngine. Props to Matt Perry and Nathan Letsinger for making the switch happen (and to the Otto and Nacin show for their support).

Want to help publishers kick ass with WordPress? Come join my team — we’re hiring.

5 reasons news organisations prefer in-house web publishing tools

5 reasons news organisations prefer in-house web publishing tools. Greater assurance it integrates with the rest of your stack, you ensure the content lives on permanently, aren’t subject to everchanging third-party terms of service, opportunity to build a better workflow around the tool, and, most importantly, building in-house can give you a competitive advantage.

The Bifurcation of Content Management and Delivery

I believe that, at some point, a vendor will decouple their delivery tier from their management tier and spin it off as a separate product that works with other vendor’s management systems.

[…]

EPiServer CMS v6 R2 has one of the best features I’ve seen in a CMS in its Visitor Groups. This feature lets you develop criteria to profile demographic groups – you can put all people who come from monster.com, for instance, into a “Potential Job Seeker” group and then morph your site for them – highlight a different featured link, for instance, or even show different content down to the paragraph (even sentence) level.

[…]

So, it’s got me thinking – how long before someone abstracts this feature? It happens to be part of EPiServer now, but it could really be done with any CMS… or without one. How long before someone develops some CMS-agnostic system that runs in the delivery tier that provides this functionality? They’ll sell some connectors, of course, that make it work gracefully with the popular CMS, but it would stand on its own.

The Bifurcation of Content Management and Delivery. I almost wonder if content management is going the way of the bison, in favor of loosely-coupled content production, storage and presentation. Elegant tools for content creation are certainly becoming the rage; evolution with the presentation layer is a ripe fruit waiting to be picked. (via Max a long time ago I think)

The Heart of Content Management

The Heart of Content Management. “As soon as the tools we use to publish our sites start to equal the class, skill and nuance we the writers are expected to put into “the content” on our sites, then we can start to truly consider ourselves publishers in the digital age. Until then, digital will always be second to print.”