Making A Better Open Source CMS

I feel much better knowing I’m not the only one who finds Open Source CMS systems so frustrating. I’ve been poking around with several on the theory that a decent, affordable, CMS should be a key component in a personal knowledge management environment. Veen helps articulate why I’ve been struggling and it’s not because I’m stupid, which is always reassuring. The comments to Veen’s post are also helpful in suggesting some paths forward for my own experiments. Now, if I can only find those hours hidden between midnight and 1AM that I’m sure exist in some parallel universe

Jeff Veen: Making A Better Open Source CMS. “I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard people tell me things like, ‘Yeah, we tried PHP-Nuke. But everything came out so Nuke-y looking.’ That suggests to me that most systems are designed with a particular genre of site in mind. Then, features and functionality are added on top of that basic framework. And the whole package is then shipped as a tangled mess of add-ons and faulty assumptions.” There seem to be a lot of people who want to write Slashclones or blog software or dynamic app frameworks, but not much in the way of generic content management. [Hack the Planet]

Screwed-up, evolvable protocols that out-learn well-designed solutions

Well Ted Nelson probably continues to be apoplectic over all this messiness, but Shirky is right. Thanks to Bruce Sterling for pointing me to something I had also missed at the time.

Also, yet another example of why evolution works without need for an intelligent designer.

Screwed-up, evolvable protocols that out-learn well-designed solutions. Clay Shirky theorizing This essay was written eight years ago and I haven’t read it till now. I really dig it when you read some assertion about the Web that’s eight years old, and it makes better sense now than it did when it was written. Either Clay Shirky is impressively prescient, or this is some kind of genuine principle here. Maybe both! [Beyond the Beyond]

My i-Name

I agree with Phil. This looks like an interesting experiment and worth $25 to play along. I’m =jim.mcgee and here is my contact page .

My i-Name.

While here, I’ve had a chance to learn about the Identity Commons, a move to create a third party identity service. Identity Commons is committed to individual ownership of identity information and relationships. They manage something called i-names, unique names that you can sign up for and keep for 50 years (one-time fee). I signed up for one this morning. I’m =windley. The equal sign is used before an i-name to identity it as an i-name. So far, about the only thing you can do with an i-name is to create a contact page. Here’s mine. Eventually, the i-name will tie to all kinds of forms of contacting a person.

I-names are based on the XRI specification. XRI (Extensible Resource Identifier) is a “new URI-compatible scheme and resolution protocol for abstract identifiers identifiers that are location-, application-, and transport-independent, and thus can be shared across any number of domains and directories. The XRI 1.0 specifications were published in January 2004 by the OASIS XRI Technical Committee.”

I’ve got no idea if this will ever go anywhere, but I think interesting and support it $25 worth.

[Windley’s Enterprise Computing Weblog]

Odd problem with Typepad RSS feeds

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that Typepad hosted blogs appear to be remarkably profligate in the way they regenerate their RSS feeds? Last weekend, in what has become typical, I opened up my news aggregator, which is Radio, to discover approximately 1,000 items eagerly awaiting my attention. Of those 1,000 items, nearly half were items repeated multiple times from Typepad sites.

I can’t quite figure out whether this is an interaction between the way Radio and Typepad work or whether it is something more specific just to Typepad. Sure, it would help if I could tell Radio to only poll a site once or twice a day instead of once an hour. But on other sites, Radio appears smart enough to now pull a feed if nothing has changed since the last time it polled a site.

What is it about the way Typepad generates, or regenerates, its RSS feeds? Can someone enlighten me?

UPDATE: Mark Paschal suspects this may be related to the way that Radio handles RDF feeds. And Jenny Levine has also noted the same kinds of problem. For those with more knowledge of these things, here are some typepad feeds that illustrate the problems Jenny and I are encountering:

Happy Shared Blogiversary to Liz Lawley

I had forgotten that Liz Lawley and I shared a blogiversary. Happy Blogiversary Liz!

happy 2nd blogiversary to me!. It seems appropriate that on the 2nd anniversary of my starting my blog I m moderating a workshop on social software in academic contexts. I m in the middle of dinner at a wonderful workshop at USC, but I wanted to take a moment to wish myself a happy 2nd blogiversary, and to reflect back on two years that have brought astonishing changes in both my personal and my professional lives. Thank you so much for being a part of this change in my life…. [mamamusings]

Third blogiversary at McGee's Musings

This is now more than an experiment. I started this blog three years ago today as a way to share materials with my students when I was teaching a class on IT management at the Kellogg School. On that first day I linked to two items in Technology Review on digital preservation and on the semantic web and I posted an entry on K-logs in organizations – technical and organizational challenges.

In the Spring of 2002, I created a course on knowledge management and made blogging a requirement of that course. That first effort was a mixed success at best (see Blogging in the Classroom Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)and I returned to the private sector before I had a chance to address the lessons learned from that experiment.

I continue to believe that the kinds of simple tools represented by blogs and wikis will ultimately become an essential part of the toolkit of every knowledge worker. As is typically the case for technology innovations, the issues to be dealt with are social and organizational not technical.

What is absolutely clear to me is that the primary, if unexpected, benefit of maintaining this blog is in the new connections it has made for me. Directly because of the time I have put into this blog I have a new set of friends and colleagues all over the world. So, to begin with I would like to thank Dave Winer, Robert Scoble, and John Robb for creating the tools I use and for being willing to take a flyer on the notion of supporting a now former academic trying to apply them in a real world context. Radio, warts and all, remains one of the most innovative tools integrating all the essential elements supporting my blogging in a single environment.

To the following new friends I have managed to encounter because of blogging, thank you for making this an experiment I intend to continue. Let’s see who else we can invite to the party.

Jenny Levine, AKMA, Terry Frazier, Betsy Devine, Buzz Bruggeman, Denham Grey, Marc Orchant, Cameron Reilly, Marjolein Hoekstra, Ernie Svenson, Judith Meskill, Jack Vinson, Ross Mayfield, Lilia Efimova, Jeremy Wagstaff, Matt Mower, Ton Zijlstra, Eric Snowdeal, Rick Klau, Greg Lloyd, Chris Nuzum, Jordan Frank, Halley Suitt, Jon Husband, and Dina Mehta.

If I’ve forgotten someone, my apologies. Ping me and I’ll update the list.

UPDATE: Between some pings and racking my brains some more, I’ve added some updates to the list above

Blogs and market research

One of the things I’ve always found fascinating in Dina’s blog is the way she uses ethnographic methods in her market research (what can I say, I have eclectic interests) and in her thinking about how blogs might generate new kinds of data that will prove important to marketers. For so many kinds of markets, blogs can provide a window into what customers and non-customers are passionate about. The Kryptonite lock problems being one of the more recent examples. The relevance of this direct access to “voice” is quickly obvious to anyone who participates in blogging. The question then becomes why marketing organizations have been so slow to pick up on the potential value of blogs.

In the marketing research context, blogs are a disruptive technology. Instead of having to generate data by way of surveys or focus groups with whatever artifacts the process introduces, blogs provide direct visibility into customers. Instead of having to connect potentially artificial samples back to the actual market, now you have to filter real market behavior, interpret it, and make sense of it. That presents two challenges to market research functions. First, market research staff have to develop new skills. For that, they would do well to pay attention to Dina. Second, management of market research needs to spend some quality thinking time about what to do with access to this new kind of market data.

The opportunity that blogs introduce into the marketing research equation is to create the opportunity to identify and run multiple micro-experiments in the market. Those that succeed get the resources to scale, those that fail generate some useful data and are quickly shut down. There are challenges, of course, especially given how quickly ideas spread in a connected world, but that should be offset by the speed with which experiments can be identified and run. Worth thinking about.

Dinner with Judith and Dina

This week’s fascinating impromptu blogger dinner was with Judith Meskill and Dina Mehta. Only in the blogging world would bloggers from Chicago, Princeton, and Mumbai end up having dinner in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Judith was in town blogging the VON conference, Dina was on her way up to PopTech, and I am here for client meetings tomorrow.

We did do a little bit of small talk, but much like David Weinberger we pretty quickly ended up focusing substantively on several topics around blogging in business. Two that I want to try to recapture are how blogs might change the nature of market research and how the notion of oral culture in organizations might help explain the relatively slow take up of blogs inside the firewall.

Lunch with Betsy Devine: tenure, age, and folly

I finally had lunch with Betsy Devine today at the Bombay Club in Cambridge. This was a long delayed get together that was orginally intended to include Halley Suitt as well. Just as well that we ended up doing two separate lunches. I fear my head would have exploded if I had tried to keep up with both of them at the same time.

As with Halley, Betsy and I picked right up as old friends despite this being our first face-to-face meeting. Rich, stimulating conversation about education, organizations, knowledge sharing, writing, anthropology, humor, politics, science, and architecture to name just some of the topics I can remember.

One topic we talked about was what value was left in the notion of tenure in education both at the university level and below. At one point, Betsy served on the board of education in Princeton while her husband Frank was doing the research that led to his recent Nobel prize (how cool is it to get a chance to talk to someone that close to such an experience – who says blogging is a waste of time when it leads to opportunities like that?). Anyway, I was remarking on how odd tenure seemed to be when applied in public school districts. Betsy explained to me that the role of tenure in that environment was not about academic freedom but about creating some protection for older, more experienced teachers (generally women) who were otherwise at risk of being replaced by the newest crop of teachers just out of school who were not only likely to be more attractive to students and parents but much cheaper as well. I had never made that connection.

That flowed into a discussion of similar biases toward age discrimination in business organizations. That flowed into a discussion of the problems in the private sector that let organizations hold onto the profits that might accrue from replacing your aging, expensive workers with younger blood while being able to pass the broader costs of unemployed middle-aged executives with mortgages and tuitions to pay onto the society as a whole. Age discrimination laws notwithstanding, this pattern of privatizing profits and commonalizing costs is powerful and, unfortunately, rational behavior on the part of executives who are charged with putting the interests of their shareholders first. It says to me that our regulatory frameworks are broken in some important ways that will take a lot more than the trading of rhetorical positions that seems to characterize so much of our current public discourse. One reference that I want to reexamine in this context is the late Garrett Hardin’s Filters Against Folly: How to Survive Despite Economists, Ecologists, and the Merely Eloquent. I first found this slim volume about 15 years ago. It offers some excellent advice on understanding and acting on our collective responsibilities as informed laypeople in a world increasingly dominated by experts.