Civic engagement and technology: CMS

Yesterday I attended the Civic Engagement and Technology Workshop held by the Triangle Community Foundation at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development. I really enjoyed the discussion led by Rob Stuart and all kinds of local nonprofits. I’m excited to see what different groups do with what they learned about network centric advocacy and the web.

I got a chance to speak in a session that was sorta like speed geeking. [Speed geeking is a participation process used to quickly view a number of presentations within a fixed period of time.]

I talked to people about Content Management Systems. I defined them this way. A Content Management System is a type of web based application that can simplify the creation of powerful websites used by large numbers of contributors.

My primary goal was to answer questions and give practical advice that could be used right away. I lumped several different kinds of dynamic web application types under the CMS umbrella. Such as Portals (CMS), Blogs, Wikis, E-learning, and Forums. Here are the specific examples we talked about:

Drupal – full featured CMS
WordPress – blog software that can do so much more
MediaWiki– the software that powers Wikipedia
Vanilla – Great easy to use forum software

I told folks about the differences between this software and their similarities. I work with clients to discover what is right for them no matter the platform but I personally recommend Open Source software when ever I can.

Here are the links I shared to help folks learn more about CMS.

cmsmatrix.org – compare cms
WordPress.com – Free wordpress blog hosting
opensourcecms.com – Demo all kinds of free CMS

One of my main messages was just to jump in feet first and do it! You can set up a blog in under five minutes. Experiment and test out web software like a blog. It’ll help you learn about how this kind of software works. Learning by doing is the best!

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