A Rant Against "CMS"
This is a rant. I rarely write rants, but here is one. It is based on one of my largest pet peeves in the technology industry. It is about a commonly accepted term and not about the people who use it.
It is about “CMS”. This is a term that for many is synonymous with Web Content Management. This just gives me the screaming heebie jeebies. Let me illustrate.
An Example of the Problem
I was at a meeting in DC called the Web Content Mavens recently. The topics of discussion should be obvious. I made a comment to a group there that there is content that isn’t web content. This person, an experienced “CMS” implementer did not believe that any such “content” existed. I used the easy examples of Word and Excel files. She immediately jumped to the conclusion that if it wasn’t web content, it was documents. I then fired some examples at her:
- Medical X-Rays
- Raw news footage
- Scanned images
Her eyes lit up as if I had just revealed a whole new world of content to her. I didn’t. I revealed the world of content, not a new one. She hadn’t been living in the world of content. She had been in the world of web content.
There is more to Content Management than managing Web Content!!!
Being able to publish or host a website does not make something a CMS!!!
The Growing Itch
I first noticed the problem several years ago. I went to an event focused on Content Management Systems and noticed that everything focused on publishing a website. Ah, Web Content Management, I know a little on this topic, I thought to myself.
The problem is that people don’t think of it as WCM, or any similar terms. They think of it as CMS. This drives me NUTS! There are systems out there that manage content, quite well, but don’t publish to the web. They don’t get considered a CMS by many people.
I hate the term. It is a term that has such potential, but so many people use it in such a limited fashion. Qualify the thing with “Web CMS” or create a new friggin term.
Let’s look at some of the people using the term (keep in mind I like and respect most, if not all, of the people behind these sites)
- CMS Wire: They cover the broad spectrum. They have a heavy focus on the Web CMS products, but they cover others and use the term “Web CMS”. No issues.
- CMS Watch: Part of The Real Story Group, the focus is Web Content Management, Analytics, and Collaboration & Community technologies. Sounds like they could talk their way out of this until you realize that IN PARALLEL they have Enterprise Information Watch. That includes both ECM and DAM, among other technologies. Really? Is Artesia not a CMS? What about Documentum’s CenterStage? They aren’t Web CMS solutions, but it isn’t called Web CMS Watch. Tony, you are brilliant and I love the stuff that you guys do over there, but ARGH!
- CMS Report: Prime example of my frustration. Check the list of covered CMS applications, current and past. I quote, “CMS Focus is meant to include today’s web content management systems thus this list does change over time to stay relevant.” [Original formatting shown] There is no Documentum, FileNet, Livelink, eDOCS, OnBase, or any other number of systems that I have worked with in the past.
There is a big world out there. All you Web CMS people need to give the term CMS back! It doesn’t belong to you. A long time ago you took it while the broader content community was trying to futz with the term ECM. By the time we realized what was happening, you had taken the term.
To whome does the term belong? That is a topic for another day.
A Quick Breath
This isn’t personal. Far from it. I read the websites listed above and find them valuable.
Pretty much everybody who reads this will have entered the industry with the term CMS firmly entrenched, incorrectly, into daily use. That is life. I had to get this off of my chest so that when I occasionally twitch when the topic of “What is a CMS” comes up in conversation, you know why.
I’m also going to not respond to comments. I’ll allow them and read them, but I’m not going to get sucked into an argument over a rant. This is a rant and there is a lot of irrational emotion that fuels it.