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Introducing CMS 3.0

The other day I was discussing with a colleague about content management in higher education and how it is becoming much more complicated.

When we talk about web content, typically we refer to the pages on our website; what I call "on-site" content. However with the emergence of Web 2.0, web content has exploded beyond our .edu domains; what I call "off-site" content. How many institutions have a YouTube channel, manage or participate in blogs, and have a presence on Facebook, mySpace or LinkedIn?

Just as technology has evolved, so must our concept of content management. Currently, a "CMS" describes a piece of software. Something that allows text and images on a website to be easily manipulated and retrieved dynamically from a data system. Let's call that CMS 2.0. (CMS 1.0 is an HTML-only website.)

The goal of CMS 1.0/2.0 is largely to keep on-site content up-to-date. However, in the socially connected world of Web 2.0 the goal is not just to be current but to stay relevant. This requires constantly adding new, sometimes smaller, and more widely distributed bits of content off-site.

For example, a news story posted on your website (CMS 1.0/2.0), is re-purposed as a blog post, updated Twitter entry, turned into a vod or podcast, and used as a point of discussion for members of your various online communities. Managing on-site and off-site content is the next evolution of content management; what I'm calling CMS 3.0.

For me, CMS 3.0 is a management concept, not simply a piece of software. It's an approach in which we choose to manage certain online content, both on- and off-site, as part of our institution's overall web presence.

It is a management concept because

  1. There is no software on the market today that seamlessly integrates the management of on-site and off-site content. With the creation of gadgets and use of APIs, I don't think it will be too long before some smart company tries to do this though.
  2. University web teams are already struggling just to manage on-site content, and many rely on a distributed network of web editors to stay afloat. (See Management Models in CMS) Now add the need to re-purpose and maintain off-site content...that means more support, training and monitoring.
  3. Participating in the online social network elevates the importance and influence of an institution's content. Distributed web editors now need training not only in software systems, but also on the institution's brand and core messages.

CMS 3.0 is a combined function of IT and marketing communications. Institutions that have or are moving toward integrated web teams will be in the best position for success.

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