Top Down vs Bottom Up

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The Gilbane Conference on Content Management is a sleepy affair attended by corporate practioners of content management. I went last year because I was curious to see how social media was viewed by the CMS crowd. I found that the solutions offered and the topics addressed were more or less the same as the ones we wrestled with in the mid to late ’90s. It felt like a retro timewarp, particularly when contrasted with Ad:Tech, running concurrently in SF.

This year’s Gilbane Conference is still sleepy, but there are signs of hope. The first sign was that Ross Mayfield was speaking on two panels. There’s a growing interest in things 2.0, particularly corporate blogs and wikis. Yet the potential of these tools remains poorly understood, even by the vendors touting Enterprise 2.0.

I stopped by one CMS vendor’s booth that advertised Enterprise 2.0 on its list of features. I was curious to learn what features they added to their CMS. When I asked about 2.0, the most articulate rep kept repeating “blogs and wikis” but was unable to drill down into the feature sets. When I asked about feeds and aggregation, he was unfamiliar with the terms. The buzzwords RSS and Atom only elicited a blank stare.

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Fortunately, I met Bill Hutchinson, the CEO of Wordmap. Wordmap specializes in software to manage taxonomies and tag content. I found Wordmap interesting because Tacit Partners is looking for a tool to optimize and manage folksonomies for our clients. There’s a market opportunity for anyone that can bring some rationality to the chaos that user generated tags sometimes present. Hit or miss tagging is acceptable in the consumer space as demonstrated by Flickr, but it can be a waste of time and money in the corporate world if it doesn’t improve content search. What’s called for is a hybrid model that blends taxonomic systems with optimized folksonomies.

So that’s the challenge for Wordpad and their competitors. Can they open their thinking to include the wisdom of the crowd or are they too invested in the academic world of taxonomists to embrace the immutable trend?

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One Response to “Top Down vs Bottom Up”


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