Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Content Strategy

Introducing CMS Report "Lite"

Screenshot of the new CMS Report

Earlier this year I rebranded the website CMS Report to this site, socPub. The website's new identity has allowed me, article contributors, and our readers to explore topics well outside the norm of conversations surrounding content management systems. Although we're going through a bit of growing pains with establishing a new identity under socPub, I'm fully committed to this new website. The change has been good for me and I'm once again inspired to write on topics that interest me.

Nevertheless, there is a very loyal segment of longtime readers that want CMS Report back. While some readers want the old site returned for personal reasons, others have expressed a professional need to cite articles from reputable CMSReport.com for their information and are uncomfortable with referencing an "unknown" website like socPub. For this reason, I've decided to introduce a new slimmed-down version of CMS Report. Moving forward, all new content management articles we publish at socPub will also be found at CMS Report.

Within the next two weeks I plan to publish a follow-up article that talks about "lessons learned" from the rebrand. This article will also better explains how CMS Report fits in as a "channel" for socPub. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below in the comment section.

Ambulance Chasing: A Social Media Success Story

When it comes to posting online about my own personal misfortune, I have one simple rule. Don't talk about it until you can tell the story with a sense of humor. When it comes to a visible personal injury the first question you inevitably have to answer is, "What happened to you"? Three weeks ago, I was in a bicycle accident where I landed on my shoulder and broke my clavicle (collar bone). I'm better now but I'm still wearing an arm sling. My first attempt of bringing humor to the situation was on Twitter.

In the past, I've joked with my wife that every time I've had a physical injury it when I'm doing some type of physical exercise. My accident happened during a 26 mile bike ride on the bike trail when a skateboarder accidentally or on purpose (I want to believe it was the former and not the latter) put his skateboard in front of my bicycle wheel. I flipped over on the bike, landed on my shoulder, and by the next day found that I had broke my collar bone. The doctor said to expect my arm to be in a arm sling for two to six weeks. It took me almost a week to admit the specifics of my injury online. This time with a little less humor on Twitter.

Need Customer Experience Management? The CMS Box is Big Enough

If you're an insider of the content management industry, you're well of aware of the recent claims by some that the content management system is dead. If you're still using CMS as part of your vocabulary, you must not be keeping up with the times because it's all about customer experience management (CEM or CXM).  This is what some want you to believe. It's wishful thinking by those that want to be at the cutting edge of something new and believe you do that by diminishing the value of what we know currently works. Every few years we go through this movement and every time history has shown that the demise of the CMS is exaggerated.

I wasn't going to enter this conversation, but I've had some people already misread my need to put some distance between me and CMS Report as a signal that I see a sinking ship on the horizon. From my perspective, the opposite is actually true with what is going on in the CMS industry. In the past few years, I've been busier than ever talking and doing "content management". Everyone from writer to CEO now understands that managing content is the key to reaching out to customers. Only those that see a CMS as "web pages" and not a vital asset to a company's information system seem to not recognize the value of content management. There isn't a vendor, developer, or business owner that I've talked to that said they can do without a content management system. 

Dethroned: Content Is No Longer King

I spent most of the last two weeks camping and hiking in the Grand Teton National Park of northwest Wyoming. If you've never visited this national park then take my word on it that Grand Teton is one of the most beautiful places a person can visit in this world. The mountains in this place peak near 13,800 feet and rise from the valley by almost 7,000 feet. Despite the warm summer much of the United States experienced, ice glaciers can still be accessed through a number of day hikes. For anyone that loves the outdoors, this place has everything in the form of wildlife, scenery, and activities. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending from your perspective), what the Grand Teton doesn't have is good 3G or 4G cell phone coverage.

Mobile cell phone coverage in vacation spots like these are spotty at best. There were times my Android 4.0 enabled smartphone phone was rendered into nothing more than a tin can on a string.  I'm usually OK with this, but my Jayco CMS developed a problem with it's propane powered refrigerator and a good internet connection would have been very helpful to help me troubleshoot the issue. In the end, old fashion workarounds and a bit of luck fixed my fridge issue at a time when the Internet and its vast amount of content remained unreachable to me. During those two weeks, I quickly found that content was not my king. The desired end product for me was not content but instead it was information.

Google Panda Killed CMS Report's Aggregation

During the Memorial weekend, I decided to pull the plug on the CMS related news feeds we were streaming into Planet CMS. One of CMS Report's biggest strengths has always been pointing people toward the right direction in their search for content management systems. Knowing that one site couldn't support all the stories that needed to be written about CMSs, we began to rely more heavily on using a news aggregator within our Drupal CMS to provide you the links and excerpts to articles written elsewhere. I did this all with good intentions, but Google apparently disagrees.

Google constantly changes their search and ranking algorithms intended in part to weed out sites that lacked original quality content. The algorithm, Google Panda, does this in part by penalizing sites that artificially raise their onsite content by using the content of others. Sites that aggregate content from other sites get hit pretty hard in Google's search rankings. I thought I was in the clear by only providing a short excerpt and not the full content of the article, but the drop in referrals over time from Google Search tells me otherwise.

Last year, I ignored Panda because I knew my intentions were good, but the experts tell me that good intentions are not enough. I was naive and CMS Report paid the price. This has been a brutal year for traffic to CMSReport.com. My rankings and referrals from Google have dropped significantly the past several months.

2010 Enterprise Trends in Content Management

What are the enterprise trends in content management? This past month, I've given a lot of thought on the evolution of content management and social media in large organizations. Perhaps the amount of time I've recently spent on the plane traveling both coasts of the United States gave me too much reflecting time on this subject. Most of us understand the impact Enterprise 2.0 has had on enterprise content management, yet I feel like we're missing pieces to the puzzle. Luckily, there are a lot of smart people out there giving us clues to what the current enterprise trends are with content management.

I had the privilege to sit on a panel of CMS experts at this year's DrupalCon conference in San Francisco. The topic was focused on enterprise trends in both content management as well as social media. Besides myself the panel included Bryan House, Acquia, Joe Bachana, DPCI, and moderator Jacob Morgan, Chess Media Group.  The session was part of the business track of the Drupal conference and I was quite pleased a large number of people in the audience were looking fot not just Drupal solutions but any business solutions they could take back to their company.

Micropayments for Content

Rita McGrath at Harvard Business Review has written a blog post on why she hates micropayments.  Micropayments are financial transactions involving very small sums of money (see Wikipedia). For online publishing, a small fee would allow you to view the content for a certain period of time or for a certain number of articles.

Personally, I'm not sold on the concept of micropayments for content which is probably why I was lured to Ms. McGrath's article in the first place.

The idea has been around a long time — at least since the mid-to-late 90s — with both supporters and detractors weighing in. Millions have been lost by companies seeking to capitalize on streams of micropayments, almost all of which eventually crashed and burned. Myself, when confronted with a request to chip in 99 cents for a one-time glimpse at an article or $2.99 for a week's worth (as some of my local newspapers are doing) — well, I close that window and go away.

The author of the article discusses further the importance for any payment system adopted to consider "how the payment link of customers' consumption chains fits into their total experience". Micropayment systems have a tall order in that they need to be seamless, transparent, and achieve inevitability. Even grimmer for publishers, it's not only the micropayment experience that needs to be improved but also the non-micropayment systems too.

For the past few years, I've paid a yearly subscription to the Wall Street Journal for the print publication and the online subscription. With my yearly renewal coming up very soon, I've decided to discontinue my online subscription to the WSJ. Why would I do that? There are some very basic reasons to why I'm dropping WSJ.com. I rarely find myself reading the online content of the WSJ. I either already read the stories in the print version of the WSJ or I have found myself already familiar with the news story because I read a similar story posted elsewhere online. Stopping by the WSJ.com, unlike CNN or FoxNews, never became a daily ritual for me.

Under the shadow of the news feed

This post you are reading has been saved unpublished for a few days as I have feared it reads too much as a rant.  In this post, I'd like to discuss the difference between good and bad competition when it comes to similar "news sites" such as my own CMS Report.   I also want to touch on about how a CMS such as Drupal and Joomla brings both the good and the ugly online.  Unfortunately as with all technology, the modern CMS not only has been a blessing to sites dishing news for their writers and their users...but also a curse.

I've admitted in the past that I'm a big fan of Linux Today and often describe my own site as a mix of the Drudge Report and Linux Today.  In the early days, I wanted to provide a constant stream of excerpts from various sources regarding content management systems.  Similar to Linux Today, I have refused to use a fully automatic process for posting articles onto the front page of my site.  I prefer to read the articles myself and use good old cut and paste for the excerpts people see when they first arrive to the site.  I also wanted to be sure that the site provided more than just links and content from other sites but also original content salted a little with my own perspective or the perspective of others.

The manual process for aggregating news that I just described takes a little more time than even I had expected.  The negative result is that the "constant stream" of articles and links I intended to post never really happened.  My hat off to those quality sites out there that are able to pull this off.  However, while my process for posting the news isn't as efficient and it could be, I think such a process makes site such as mine and Linux Today not only more interesting for the reader but also genuine and honest.

Alex King does it better

When I first started developing this website, CMSReport.com, it was my intention to also take "the opportunity to provide a series of how-to articles on building a Website using Drupal".  I wanted to help those getting started in using a content management system for their site by suggesting some tips and ideas that could make their life easier.  As time wore on, when it came to my own site I found that except for a few well written posts I failed miserably at this goal.

I'm pretty good at tasks such as developing, innovating, documenting, and system administration.  However, some people can't walk and chew bubble gum at the same time.  Unfortunately, I'm one of those people.  I have difficulty developing and documenting at the same time.  This isn't unusual as one of the most talented programmers I know struggles with documentation and will ask me for help in writing instructions for his own software.  My point is that when you find people who is blessed with being able to document their own work you need to let others know about that person.

Implementing a Taxonomy

I came across a very good article with regards to taxonomy titled, Search in Focus: Implementing a Taxonomy by Penny Crosman.  The article is a month or two old, but I haven't run across it before so maybe others haven't either.

Search engines don't know the difference between reading glasses and drinking glasses, but a taxonomy puts your query in context. We outline several ways to build taxonomies, ranging from the tough but potentially more accurate approach of building from scratch to the easier but potentially compromised approach of buying a prebuilt taxonomy or using automated clustering software.

Also be sure to check out the author's 10 Reasons To Use A Taxonomy.   Both of these articles were posted on Intelligent Enterprise.

The first time I heard the term taxonomy really wasn't until I started using Drupal.  It can take awhile to learn how best to use (and not to use) taxonomy in Drupal, but I've always found that there was enough help around to figure how best to utilize it for my sites.  Even after a couple years, I find I'm still learning how best to use taxonomy as the way I implement it seems to vary from site to site.  I also have yet to figure the best way to address what I call taxonomy bloat.  That's the tough part of learning, it all takes time and experience.