Social Media Grows in Terms of Connection, Not Content

I’ve long thought of the web as being about two things: content and connection. According to research by Forrester, connection is growing, while content creation is flat. I find this rather sad, since the ease of publishing is one of the things I like about the web.

There are posts at GigaOm and at Mashable, each of which provides a table showing that the percentage of web users considered Creators has dropped a little over the past year in both the USA and the EU. Neither post links to a post or page at Forrester. It seems strange that there isn’t a post at the Groundswell blog, since Groundswell seems to have provided the framework for the research.

Update, the following morning: there is now a post at Groundswell.

The HERO According to Forrester

I was very impressed with Groundswell, the book by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff about the impact of “social technologies” on business. When it came out, two years ago, both authors were with Forrester research.

Josh, along with Forrester colleague Ted Schadler, has a new book out soon: Empowered. Josh recently posted that there’s an article based on the book in Harvard Business Review, and that the article can be read online (it still can at the time of writing).

Now, many business books condense down well to article length, and many articles can be summarized by a single figure, often a 2×2. In some cases, the shorter forms are the best investment of time. In other cases, they serve to whet the appetite for the more substantial fare. If Empowered is anything like its predecessor, it will be pretty substantial.

Anyway, I include a 2×2 from the article. As usual with management 2x2s, the upper right quadrant is the good one. If you feel empowered, and act resourceful, then you are a HERO: a highly empowered and resourceful operative. I’d prefer less drama (HERO?) and more grammar (act resourceful? shouldn’t that be resourcefully?).

This figure, with 20% HEROs, reflects the data from Forrester’s survey of 5,000 information workers. The article breaks out the data a little, and I assume that the book breaks it out a lot. The article also highlights relationships between HEROs, managers, and information technology, and I assume the book discusses these relationships in more detail.

Meanwhile, Josh’s Groundswell co-author, Charlene Li, has her own firm, Altimeter, and her own book: Open Leadership. I should get hold of a copy…

Trying to Understand CMS

I know that CMS stands for Content Management System, but I don’t know what that means. In order to understand what a term describes, it’s often helpful to try to understand what the term doesn’t describe. So, in order not to be a CMS, something has to lack one of the following attributes.

  • Content. I find it hard to see the interest in anything content-free. I suppose that there might be a social network so purely about connection as to be unencumbered by content, but…
  • Management. I find it hard to see the point of something that can’t be managed, especially if we have an eye to the business market as well as to the consumer market.
  • System-ness: but let’s not get into what that might mean.

Since I don’t know what a CMS isn’t, I can’t claim to know what a CMS is. But I do claim to recognize one when I see one, which is perhaps good enough for Web 2.0 (whatever that is) work.

I do understand the argument for free/open source software, in CMSs and elsewhere. So do Forrester, who just wrote a report on what they call WCM (web content management) and open source. Clients are looking at OSWCM (may as well go all the way with the alphabet soup) “as a way of controlling software costs and increasing their access to product-specific expertise in the marketplace.”

The Forrester page doesn’t provide much detail, but there are quotes elsewhere. For example:

For an open source WCM vendor to be relevant, it must have a satisfactory product offering, proven enterprise-level implementations, and a large–and passionate–community of developers and service providers. Currently, enterprises interested in open source should keep an eye on two offerings–Alfresco Software and Drupal.

That quote from the report was posted by Matt Asay of Alfresco. He of course likes the report. So does Jeff Whatcott of Acquia, who wrote that:

Forrester analysts… highlight Drupal (with Acquia backing) and Alfresco as the most “relevant”. Among a wildly crowded field, Drupal+Acquia and Alfresco stood out for strong technical architecture, active communities, and strong commercial backing that make the technology more accessible. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

By the way, Jeff is among those in the CMS world who don’t like the term CMS. We even find discussion of problems with the term at the site called CMS Report.

Having identified “free is good” as one of things I do understand about CMS, I find it hard to see good prospects for a CMS that is neither free/open source nor free of charge. Nevertheless Markup Factory just launched exactly that.

I have to agree with Mashable Paul that Markup Factory will turn away quite a few interested users who would otherwise quickly become adopters with its paid subsciption model, starting at $14.95/month and with no apparent option of a free trial. Given that, I’m puzzled that it got featured at Mashable, which I believe features only a subset of the launched products it’s told about.

Puzzling place, this CMSland. Rather more complicated than Blogistan.

Forrester Fumbles Firefox

Good news: Charlene Li notes that video highlights from Forrester’s Consumer Forum are available online.

Bad news: “Note that you need to use Internet Explorer to use the navigation and see the slides.” Perhaps there is a certain logic to that. It may well be that Firefox users already know all about what Charlene calls “The Groundswell.”

Bottom line: you can still see and hear the video of Charlene and the other speakers, even if you can’t see the slides, with Firefox (and, I presume, pretty much any other browser).