A few months ago, I had a problem. After eight years of non-stop writing, I found myself exhausted of all enthusiasm to blog. Let me tell you, it's a sad day in Web City when an advocate for content management systems has no real desire to author new content. I was also questioning in this age of "always on" social media whether the traditional blog had lost value not only to me but my readers. If content is no longer king, why should I spend so much effort creating new content? So as summer approached, I decided to take a break from blogging.
At the beginning of my sabbatical I made a secret promise to myself. If at the end of three months I found no value in blogging, I would call Agility to say it's time to shutdown CMS Report. I was prepared to resign myself to writing only an occasional post on Google+ (which "experts" claim no one reads) or on my personal blog (which I know nobody reads). If I did this, would I really miss CMS Report? Would the readers miss me if I was no longer blogging? On more practical terms, do I really need to blog in an era where Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter is available to me?
Honestly, three months ago I had hoped to find that blogging no longer has value. It would have been a revolutionary moment and raise the eyebrows of my peers. I was hoping to shock the world on my "discovery" that blogging didn't matter. Alas, after three months of not blogging, I've found that I will be given absolutely no opportunity to shock and awe. To my surprise, I've found that blogging still matters. Here is what I discovered...
Last month, CMS Report celebrated eight years of providing stories to readers focused on content management systems. Over the years, I've told you how grateful and even surprised I am of the success CMS Report has seen. All true, but for fear of sounding ungrateful I've never acknowledged the negatives of blogging over such an extended period of time. Today, I'm acknowledging the costs and the need to take a break from my routine of waking up before sunrise and going to bed late to maintain the site. Starting today, I'm taking a three month sabbatical away from blogging here and at CMS Report.
CMS Report will still be publishing articles from our contributors during my sabbatical, but you likely won't be seeing any articles written by me. I still plan on continuing working as editor but my office hours for the site will be reduced. I'm doing all this simply because I have responsibilities to the "day job" and myself that are begging for higher priority. In the draft for this article, I originally provided three reasons that I'm doing this sabbatical but deleted them from the published article. My reasons for taking such a break are not important but only the outcome. The end result is CMS Report will be fine without me and will likely be a better website as a result of my sabbatical.
So I end this article by simply saying: see you on the other side!
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.
One of the purposes of a personal blog is to leave behind the stress and confines of your professional duties and embrace a new adventure. However, it's easy to fall into a trap of bringing what you do professionally back home with you into your own personal space. I originally had planned to update this blog at a minimum of once a week. Sticking to schedules are a necessary part of my professional life and I was about to repeat that same approach here.
When I looked at my calendar to set some time to blog I began to see more of my free time whither away. I began feeling stress over something I should have complete control over, my personal schedule.
Sticking to a schedule is a great idea for professional blogs, but it's a horrible idea for those that truly want to "break out of the box". Your whole approach for supporting a personal blog needs to be different than your professional blog. If not, what is the point of doing a personal blog?
Most people regret wrong turns. When my son was 20 months old we visited his grandparents in Kansas City. He was a great little traveler on the way there but on the way back he hit his limit to being "uncomfortable" in the back seat. When we saw a train on the tracks east of the Interstate, I decided to take the next turnoff in hopes the train would distract him for a few minutes. Unfortunately, once committed to the new highway there was no way to turn around for 18 miles. My 5 minute pause delay turned into a much longer detour. Worse, we failed to grab our prize as the train was long gone from our view. Eventually, I yielded to our fate and made another turn for the country roads.
Sometimes you have to accept wrong turns as part of the journey. My son and I rode the Iowa county roads over rolling hills. We shouted "Up!" when we went up the hill and we shouted "Dooowwwwn!" when we went down the hills. We saw farms, we saw tractors, we saw cows, we saw horses, we saw dogs, and we saw each other laugh. Once we got back on the Interstate, my son lost his patience once again and the remainder of the trip was just as uncomfortable as the first half. But for that brief hour, Dad and son were able to relax and smile. Anyone with a small child, knows that such an hour is more precious than any fast but miserable trip home.
The next time work or life takes a wrong turn, you have a choice to fight it or accept it. Often we believe the heroic thing to do is to fight the wrong turn. Too often or not, heroes lose sight of the value in accepting wrong turns as an unexpected gift of the journey we take each day.
Last year, Kevin Drew Davis gave a keynote at CMS Expo titled, "Humanity Before Technology". That speech reminds me each day to be something more tomorrow than I am today. Mr. Davis asked, what would be the endless possibilities for the smartphone we carry in our pocket if we didn't call it a phone? He then went to explain that the names of things can sometimes limit our understanding of such things.
Almost a decade ago and after a few years of blogging, I stumbled on a particular genre of software that interested web developers, marketers, business owners, consultants, and analysts. So I did what any self respecting information technologist would do, I registered the perfect domain name and built me a website. The site became so successful that what I had intended to be my personal blog eventually evolved into a nice side business. Suddenly, I not only had name recognition in the content management industry but I also had sponsors and advertisers knocking on my door. It was and still is the classic story of a blogger not intending success but achieving it nevertheless.
The irony of running a successful website is that as the site becomes more popular you're compelled and obligated to give the reader and the advertisers what they want. While always grateful for all that I have achieved and have been given, I have found that success also can box someone into a space that is often not big enough. I'm wise enough to know that running from such successes is not the answer. At the same time, I have a fire in my belly to explore additional paths as an individual that are not predetermined by labels. So, for those friends that saw the subtle hints and cared enough to ask why, you now have a vague answer to your question. The names of things can sometimes limit the understanding of ourselves. Unless, of course, that label is our own name.
On this blog you will see an inclusion of "best of" articles from various sources that I view as milestones to the past. From this post forward, you will also find my thoughts, words, and deeds with a style and voice that has often been encouraged but seldom spoken.
When Google announced in 2012 that they were bringing Google Fiber to Kansas City, my father called me and said he was interested. As an information technologist, I was excited. I told the “old man” that Google Fiber was going to change everything. Last month, Google Fiber finally came to my parents' neighborhood, and I made the six-hour drive to visit the house I grew up in.
After watching my parents interact with Google Fiber, I confirmed not only that Google Fiber was a game changer, but I also discovered something I hadn't expected: in a world where technology companies prefer to deliver shock and awe, Google made every effort to deliver no surprises to homeowners. On the surface, my parents weren't doing anything different than they had before Google brought their tech to town. This ultimate game changing disruptive technology could not be more non-disruptive to the families who are about to consume it.
Early this morning, I was one of two guests on the eZ Publish Show. The purpose of the episode was to discuss the future of content management system. I was joined by host Ivo Lukač of Netgen, and fellow guest Apoorv Durga from Real Story Group.
Honestly, I usually steer clear from discussions on the future of content management and any associated technology. It's not that I don't have the vision of what the future holds (such as social media impacting content management). The problem is when I look back at such predictions from the context of today, I'm embarrassed. Even with my better predictions, there is usually so much that I missed and didn't get right. So, I'm quite pleased that both Apoorv and I were conservative in our predictions on the future of content management. If you think you can do better in your predictions, and some of you can, please let me know what you think the future holds for content management systems.
If there is any one thing I want people to get out of today's eZ Publish Show it is this: What is the future of content management systems? Answer: Solving the problems of today.
I do not know when it exactly happened, but a number of years ago I decided to become a pacifist. I am a pacifist that is in the war of open source versus proprietary. In my opinion, the debate over licensing and software development processes is only mildly interesting as it is the quality of the end product that matters to me most. I walk the fine line of being an advocate for open source and a defender of proprietary software. Admittedly I've confused a lot of people that have chosen to take sides in this war. However, there is always room for reasonable civil discussions of any topic when new data and new perspective is given. This is perhaps why within the past week I enjoyed reading a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Acquia that shows the value of open source without necessarily attacking the value of proprietary software.
The independent study conducted by Forrester is titled “Is It Time To Consider Open Source WCM For Digital Experience?”. Given that the study is being promoted by Acquia, an open source Drupal company, it shouldn't be surprising to you that this paper highlights the benefits of open source web content management systems (WCM). However, the author of the paper does this in way that that doesn't also dismiss the value of proprietary systems. This paper is an invitation with business reasons given for IT shops that for one reason or another remain proprietary to start considering using open source solutions. That soft sell in my opinion will win over more customers than the doomsday ideologies we often hear from both open source and proprietary proponents.
For a second year in a row, I along with CMS Report was invited to cover Liferay's North America Symposium which is being held this year in San Francisco. During this morning's keynote speech by Bryan Cheung, Liferay CEO and founder, I couldn't walk away from the presentation without recognizing the difference a year can make for one company. Something has changed for Liferay and the many partners and associated vendors that are represented here at this conference. Liferay has grown up, people are ready to talk business, and they're once again ready to talk about the importance of open source and community which makes this all happen.
This morning, Liferay released some startling numbers on just how good business is in terms of growth for the Liferay ecosystem. Consider some of these highlights related to the announcement: