Saturday, June 25, 2005

RSS to go mainstream

Today's news that Microsoft will build support for RSS into the next browser and its next operating system (Longhorn) is good from at least two perspectives. Making it easier to subscribe to a feed has to be the number one benefit. Today, that is still difficult and confusing for many people.

And while there are some rumblings about Microsoft being late to the RSS party, their support means that RSS has now gone definitely gone mainstream. That has to be good for everyone.

Comprehensive coverage of the news is on Alex Barnett's Blog

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Testing Qumana

I'm having a look at Qumana, which is a weblog editor. I've been look for a convenient editor for use with the various weblogs which I maintain, so I was eager to try it. The installer didn't place any shortcuts on my desktop nor icons in the system tray as suggested in the documentation, but I successfully launched it from "Program files" and my initial impressions were favourable: straighforward interface, spell checking and thesaurus.
error message "key (url) not found"
Unfortunately, it failed when trying to configure it for the Active Weblog, which uses Movable Type. Qumana found Movable Type's xml-rpc.cgi file ok, but produced this error when testing the set-up. I couldn't find any relevant support information of the Qumana site and I expect to forward this post to them for assistance.

In stead, I configured the system for use with blogger, which went smoothly and writing this quick post is my first experience with Qumana.
Unfortunately, when posting this item, a number of glitches appeared:
  • The image url was mangled by Qumana and did not display until I edited the HTML.
  • The title of the post did not apear on Blogger, I had to manually edit it.
So my initial impression is that it's not ready for prime time. That's a pity, because the world is waiting for an editor that makes posting to Weblogs as easy as writing an email and sending it.

Still later:
I received a prompt reply from Tris Hussy at Qumana asking for more information on the image display bug. I tried to replicate the image problem and found that I had mistakenly entered a backslash (rather than forward slash) in the image URL. Interestingly, this did not stop Qumana from displaying the image, but covered up the error until that post was published to Blogger. So it was caused by a combination of my poor typing and Qumana covering up that error. The other problems remain as stated above.
Powered By Qumana

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Poster children for the evolution

Jon Udell and Dave Winer, always educational and entertaining. New post on Active Weblog

Friday, June 03, 2005

My Booth is bigger than your Social Software

Over at Bill's place, he's musing about the size of booths (known as stands in our local lingo, Strine) at the AIIM show in Philadelphia. Oh, Oh, you're thinking, Marius is going to have another post about trade shows too... [more at ActiveWeb]

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Building it, one blog at the time

Three blocks, marked WWW
I'm in the process of gathering my consulting and other ambitions into a new company, Active Web Communications. Its focus will be to assist businesses to better take advantage of the Web, both from a Market Commmunications and from a Systems Integration perspective. We haven't yet seen the lower end of the Content Management Market mature, while RSS and Weblogs are "Crossing the Chasm". Low cost software and hosted applications are bringing new challenges for software vendors and their customers. It's an exciting time to start a new business. Anyway, I won't bore you with more of the details here now.

Active Weblog logo, Building it one block at the time

Sufficiant to say that the company has a Weblog of its own. Subscribe to the feed and follow along! I'll be posting my web business related pieces there from now on and focus here more on shorter pieces about technical obsessions. I also hope to give this blog a design make-over soon.

Anyway, check it out. I just wrote a piece at Active about the prospects of Sensis.

Friday, May 27, 2005

A tale of two shows, CeBIT and PacPrint

CeBit and PacPrint show passes
I've been "beta testing" a business advisory service which we're launching on July 1 and had reasons to be at both CeBit Sydney and PacPrint in Melbourne this past week. What a contrast...

CeBit felt like just another IT show, only with a New Zealand pavilion. It wasn't much different from the computer shows in years gone by, although Wireless Networking and mobile companies had replaced hard drives and mother board vendors. Of course, there were the AIIA stands and the national stands, subsidized by their respective governments, but as a show, it didn't work for me. A very, very pale imitation of the Hannover CeBIT show. Moreover, the question that hung in the air at CeBit was "What is the target market of the show?"

Pacprint show floor
At PacPrint in Melbourne, it was abundantly clear who the audience were: Printers, people and companies involved in "Ink On Paper" technology. You knew who they were and why they were there. They were looking for that printing press or some other piece of technology which might make their business more productive or improve their quality of service. There was a sense of excitement and interest which seemed sorely lacking at the other show.

Of course, there was as much Information Technology on site at Jeff's Shed in Melbourne as there was at CeBit. Powering not just the presses and ancillary equipment, but of course also on stands like Adobe's. An important software category at the show was workflow. Printing equipment is expensive, and needs to be constantly "kept fed" in order to provide a return for their owners.

Quote & Print logo
Workflow is a hot topic and efficient execution determines profit and loss for commercial printing companies. It's good to see an Australian software company, Quote & Print doing well there. They are an example to many in the software business: start with a customer's problem and help them solve it. When there are a number of customers with that same problem, you've got yourself a business. As long as you run it well and stay in touch with the customers, which is exactly why Dave Bell and his company, Quote & Print were at the PacPrint show and not at CeBIT. Simple, really...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The future of Enterprise Content Management?

Enterprise Content Management 365 logo
I usually scan over the Penton email newsletter about Content Management because James Brown is an entertaining writer and Content Management is one of my continuing interests (passions?). In his last email, James announced a new series of articles on Penton Europe's CM365 site, the first of which was entitled "The future of Web Content Management", by Adrian Kershaw, Fatwire Software's General Manager for Northern Europe.

I read the article and was surprised that, while mentioning personalization and news, it did not mention Weblogs, RSS and aggregation. I left a comment to that effect, as the web site invited readers to "Add a comment to this article" and hoped to engage Adrian and others into a conversation about how RSS might impact ECM.

Unfortunately, it looks like comments are a one way street at CM365. Four days later, my comment still hasn't turned up on the site.
So we might well ask:

  • Why give customers the ability to leave comments when they don't show up on the site?
  • What do Enterprise Content Management vendors think about Weblogs and RSS?
  • What are they afraid of?

We are left with the impression that Content Management Vendors are not looking to learn from the Weblog/RSS phenomenon. They no longer call themselves CMS (Content Management Systems) vendors and have re-branded themselves as being in the "Enterprise Content Management" business. And of course there is a whole industry which is supported by the ECM market: the Analysts, the "Journalists" and the Trade Show organizers. Needed, because customers are confused by the bewildering array of vendors and price points. And in some cases, customers are coming to realize that the Emperor has few clothes and that they're very expensive.

There are millions of users of Personal Content Management Systems (a name which ECM vendors might prefer over "blogs"). Sure, blogging tools are in many cases, crude and unpolished. Users put up with the rough edges because the tools serve their purpose, they allow them to communicate in a way that they couldn't before. It is "Comments, RSS and Aggregators" that lets them turn one-way communication into a conversation with whoever they imagine their readers to be.

That's not to say that there aren't interesting problems to be solved when managing large amounts of content or that it isn't useful having a predictable framework to build a web site, but one would think that Enterprises would want to communicate as well as manage their content.

Weblogging is disrupting the CMS market and vendors will ignore it at their peril . The Innovator's Dilemma and Solution by Clayton Christensen (not to mention the Cluetrain Manifesto) should be required reading for ECM vendors.

Oh… and Adrian, I feel you describe the past of Web Content Management, rather than its future, no matter what Rupert Murdoch or Forrester might have said. Like you, they have a particular perspective which is not be shared by literally millions of bloggers.