When I started this blog on Movable Type 4, I used the Action Streams plug-in to put a list of Twitter and Facebook activities in the right hand column. I did this out of habit, treating the list of tweets as a black-box in the form of a widget rather than something actually integrated into the content of my blog. Over the last couple of week, I realized that while this made sense from a technical perspective, it didn’t really reflect the true relationship between the content generated through lifestreaming and long-form blog posts that expounded on a particular idea, never mind that fact that the former are going to outnumber the latter due to my lackadaisical efforts to compose interesting posts. But, more importantly, it demonstrated some of the limitations of using widgets as the fundamental building blocks of web publishing.
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I had an interesting conversation today with an analyst that was trying to understand how tools like Movable Type and blogging fit into the general category of content management. When I was at Vignette, we had seen the content management space splitting into web content management (WCM), document management and enterprise content management (ECM), and collaborative intranet portals. Although Vignette, through various acquisitions, had strong products in each of those categories, it was hard to see the relationship between how content managed in the WCM and ECM worlds related to the more ad-hoc collaborative content that was created and interacted with on a daily basis within the increasingly-popular intranets and corporate portals. Companies were increasingly choosing corporate portals such as Epicentric, Plumtree, and Microsoft’s incredibly successful SharePoint product, which offered “lightweight” content management in conjunction with strong collaboration capabilities over the more powerful, large-scale content management systems. For Internet publishing, the same thing was occurring in the web content management space as well, but it was happening under the radar screen of most of the WCM vendors in the form of the emergence of blogging. The reason why it wasn’t immediately understood was because WCM vendors have historically been driven by the needs of the large media publishers, and as we all know, those publishers had no idea just how much the principals of blogging would transform their businesses at the time.