Published on September 11th, 2009 | by Rahel Bailie2
Component content management as content mashup
Explaining CCM (component content management) to clients is sometimes difficult. The concept of combining content at the component level to create topics, which then get combined to create publications – or not; sometimes, topics just remain topics – is complex to understand to people who aren’t typically involved in the production or management of content.
Ironically, one group that has a hard time with the concepts of CCM are the IS/IT groups. For a while, this flummoxed me, as I thought that an understanding of the technology side would be an advantage to understanding it. Then it dawned on me that knowing the general principles of content management could actually become a barrier. Content management has become synonymous with WCM (Web Content Management), with CCM considered an obscure niche within the broader field, and WCM does not handle content at a sufficiently granular level. The final two words, “content management” are the same, but it’s the first word that makes the functional difference. It’s a little like thinking a truck is a truck, whether the prefix is “moving” or “dump”.
The difference is a little like that. For the average WCM system, content is input directly into the content management system, and managed at whatever level the content is input – generally, at the page level. A change to made to a page, and an edit udpates the entire page.
For the average CCM system, the content is created in smaller-than-page chunks, and assembled, much like a content mashup, to create a larger-sized page for output. A change is made to a component, which can be a single word, phrase, paragraph, or larger, which is then compiled, much like a software “build”, which generates a presentation version of the specified sources. The aggregated content can be pushed out to a Web page, a PDF, or a print destination.
When we think of mashups, we think of the Wikipedia definition of a mashup, which is combining data from two or more sources to create a richer information set. A common mash-up is an address with a map, that displays that includes both components as a single, integrated screen, with more meaning. A content mashup is similar – for example, when an ecommerce retailer pulls product descriptions from one data source and the prices from a financial system to mash together and display according to the requested content.
The technology that allows content to be mashed up before making it to the end display is an XML editor. The editor allows authors to determine how the components will be mashed together, whether that be through a manual mechanism such as a content map, or automated through an information retrieval system such as a taxonomy or thesaurus.
Whether understanding CCM as a mashup application is helpful for purposes of explaining to the technical parties remains to be seen. I do suspect that the analogy will strike a chord with a certain client segment, though, and that’s about all I can ask.