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DigiCULT
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11
eration of pieces of information put
together to form a cohesive whole. A book
has content, which is comprised of multi-
ple chapters, paragraphs, and sentences.
Newspapers contain content: articles,
advertisements, indexes, and pictures.The
newest entry to the media world, the Web,
is just the same; sites are made of articles,
advertisements, indexes, and pictures all
organised into a coherent presentation.'
3
A
content management system is the
technical environment (hardware,
software, expertise) that supports the sys-
tematic processing of digital content from
authorship to publication. For our purpos-
es, `publication' is delivery to users via
Internet browser technology, but Boiko
makes it clear that, once digital content
resides in a CMS, it can be repurposed for
any number of uses, including feeding to
digital printing presses or reformatting for
transmission as `fixed' digital entities, such
as PDF documents. `At first blush CMS
may seem like a way to create large Web-
sites, but upon closer examination it is in
fact an overall process for collecting, man-
aging and publishing content to any
outlet.'
4
I
n `Content Management Systems:Who
Needs Them?'
5
the authors acknowl-
edge that the boundaries are fuzzy
between document management systems,
knowledge management systems, group-
ware and other enterprise information
management systems.They place the core
functions of a content management system
into four categories:
vision of a unified Web presence supported
by `a sound Web strategy and an environ-
ment that automates some of the collabo-
rative contribution'.The report identified
four overarching benefits to a more unified
approach to the Duke Web, including more
effective branding, customised content,
department autonomy with purpose, and
improved quality of the overall effort. One
of the critical mechanisms for achieving
these benefits, according to the report, is
using software to support Web develop-
ment and content sharing precisely the
claims of the content management system
industry.
1
WHAT IS A CONTENT MANAGEMENT
SYSTEM?
I
n the United States, the term `content
management system' or `Web content
management system' increasingly has a dis-
tinctive meaning. For European readers, a
CMS might best be thought of as a subset
of the larger concept of `Digital Asset
Management System' or DAMS.The
DigiCULT Technology Watch Report 1 states
that `DAMS employ technologies such as
commercially available database manage-
ment tools to handle and manage
resources, allowing users to discover them
with ease and speed and owners/creators
to monitor their usage and version histo-
ries.'
2
Content management systems are
indeed database driven tools, but the focus
is on publication processes rather than on
search and discovery.
U
niversity of Washington professor
Bob Boiko begins with a high-level
view of content and its effective manage-
ment. `Content, stated as simply as possible,
is information put to use. Information is
put to use when it is packaged and pre-
sented (published) for a specific purpose.
More often than not, content is not a sin-
gle "piece" of information, but a conglom-
DUKE UNIVERSITY CONTEXT
D
uke University (http://www.duke.
edu/) is a private higher educational
institution founded in 1924 in Durham,
North Carolina. As with any modern
research university, Duke is highly decen-
tralised. Administrative departments are
often proudly independent and have, over
time, evolved subcultures and ways of
accomplishment that may appear mysteri-
ous to the uninitiated. Decentralised
administration extends to all aspects of the
university, including technology operations
and Web publication programs.The Web at
Duke is a sprawling network that totals
over 750,000 individual pages and hun-
dreds of databases that generate Web pages
dynamically. Over the past decade, virtually
all HTML encoding has been hand-craft-
ed.The university's news and communica-
tion department manages the Duke
homepage, but the front-page system is a
minuscule proportion of the whole.
Responsibility for creating and managing
virtually all pages beyond the front door is
widely distributed across the campus. In
the university library alone, over 70 indi-
viduals have authoring rights and responsi-
bilities for portions of the 30,000 pages
that reside on the library's Web server;
some of these staff spend substantial por-
tions of their week on content creation
tasks. Duke is just now beginning to focus
on the very real resource and content limi-
tations of the university's Web space. A near
consensus exists at Duke on the value of
increased support for building and main-
taining Websites and increased capability to
share content internally, reduce inefficien-
cies across the campus, and improve the
overall quality of our technology face to
the outside world.
D
uke conducted a review of the state
of the university Web in October
2001.The internal report articulated a
Perkins Library at Duke University
1 Duke University, State of the Web, 17 October 2001. http://www.oit.duke.edu/CMSsub/docs/StateofTheWeb.pdf
2 Seamus Ross, Martin Donnelly and Milena Dobreva, DigiCULT Technology Watch Report 1: New Technologies for
the Cultural and Scientific Heritage Sector, February 2003, p. 42. http://www.digicult.info/pages/publications.php
3 Bob Boiko, `Understanding Content Management' in ASIS Bulletin, 28 (Oct/Nov 2001).
http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Oct-01/boiko.html
4 Bob Boiko, Content Management Bible (New York:Wiley & Sons, 2001).
5 Paul Browning and Mike Lowndes, `Content Management Systems:Who Needs Them?' in Ariadne,
30, 20 December 2001. http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue30/techwatch/intro.html
Duke Univ
ersity
,
2003