Squirrel Notes is an email newsletter about CMS and other content technologies. It publishes twice each month.

This issue was published on Friday, February 02, 2018.

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Non-sequiturs from the world of content management.

Evernote as a CMS. I love abstraction layers which turn existing platforms into a CMS, and so I've enjoyed Postach.io, which is a publishing platform built on Evernote. Clearly, the goal is simple blogging, since Evernote content doesn't have any structure. Additionally, I can tell you (from experience) that the HTML Evernote generates is a disaster, and there's no way to create a plain text note, thus ruling out Markdown. But if you accept those issues, this is a convenient, intuitive way to publish simple content.

Chatbots as a Channel. I had a neat demo last week of Tangowork, which is a management interface for creating chatbot experiences (think Skype, Slack, etc.). The idea is it's a channel for CMS content — your CMS pushes channel-specific versions of your content (news articles, help topics, etc.) into Tangowork, using which you create logic describing how it should respond to plain-language queries. It works on top of Azure Cognitive Services, which is insanely cool but a little too raw for most people.

NN Group Intranet Report. The 2018 Intranet Design Annual from the Nielsen-Norman Group is out. I love this report. It's expensive, at $250 for a single user, but it's an in-depth look at what other people are doing with their intranets. Traditionally, this has been hard, because intranets are private by nature. My key takeaway last year was that SharePoint can basically look like anything — 9 of the 10 intranets were on SharePoint, yet none of them looked like it.

Editorial Scripting with Denina. A couple years ago, I posted about the idea of editorial scripting. My question was: can we easily and responsibly give CMS editors — yes, editors — sandboxed scripting capabilities to extend their implementations?

This post sparked a coding frenzy that resulted in an editorial scripting language called Denina, for which we have a single implementation in Episerver. Here's a short video (1:38) that shows an example of what you can do with it. I'd like to create implementations for other .NET CMSs, so if you're a ninja with one of them and want to contibute, let me know.

Plato's Theory of Forms. If you needed a philosophical basis for content modeling (and, come on, who doesn't?), I've been doing some reading on Plato's Forms. Consider

Forms are the essences of various objects: they are that without which a thing would not be the kind of thing it is. [...] A Form is an objective 'blueprint' of perfection.

Is a content model a collection of what Plato called Forms? And could it be that humans are hard-wired for the concept of templated information? Thousands of years after Plato, we think about content in much the same way.

(And it's not just me — Larry Garfield wrote a blog post that echos many of the same themes. Tellingly, he titled it Platonic Content.)

Intelligent Content Conference. When I complained about the lack of a CMS conference in the last issue, a friend reminded me of the Intelligent Content Conference coming up in Las Vegas in March. This is technically a content strategy event, but it's very much tilted to the "back-end content strategy" that its founder, Anne Rockley, put a name on in her blog post last year. There are clear and significant crossovers into content management from this angle.