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

This issue was published on Thursday, January 03, 2019.

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Squirrel Notes Meta Post. I published a blog post last week about this very newsletter you're reading:

Squirrel Notes: The First Year

I discuss why I started an email newsletter, how I develop the content, some of the technical details behind producing it, and where it's going in the future. I hope you enjoy it.

The First Gilbane. For a long time, Gilbane was the content management conference. There used to be two every year — both in Boston and San Francisco — and it was the conference you waited all year to go to. Everyone was at Gilbane, and there's still a huge fraternity of former speakers with so many stories.

I spoke at Gilbane from 2011 to 2017. Today, it's much smaller, and this year they moved it from Boston to Washington DC at the end of April to co-locate with two other conferences.

Interestingly, I found a page listing all the past Gilbanes, back to 2002 (scroll a bit). The page for the first Gilbane is still online, and it's so nostalgic.

Aside from the rogues' gallery of pioneering vendors — Vignette, Interwoven, Stellent, Documentum, FileNET — the session titles reflect things we take for granted today but were mind-blowing back then:

  • "XML and Content Management"

  • "Single-Source Content Management: If, Why, and How"

  • "Content Control: Applying Business Rules and Rights to Content"

I loved Gilbane. It was a huge part of my professional development, and quite a few of the people reading these words right now know me because of the time I spent there and the relationships I made.

Question: what is "the new Gilbane"?

Headless CMS Article. I read with interest this CMSWire article by Kaya Ismail:

24 Headless CMS That Should Be On Your Radar in 2019

He does a nice job of differentiating "headless" from "decoupled," saying of the latter:

[a decoupled CMS] has a head, it's just decoupled from it, allowing the organization to draft in other front-end tools on an ad-hoc basis.

The list of 24 reflects that the line gets blurrier as some traditional vendors add headless subsystems and others just re-assert the competency of their existing APIs. There are systems in the list that are not "pure" headless (dotCMS, Core dna, Evoq), and their inclusion begs the question of whether we should have included others by that same yardstick (Episerver, Sitecore, etc.).

I discussed this a while back.

The State of the Headless CMS Market

I think we're rapidly approaching an inflection point where everything will be "headless optional."

The Downside of Personalization? I don't know what to make of this Black Mirror-esque article from Scientific American about content personalization.

How Personalization Leads to Homogeneity

The general point is that personalization is really effective, and therefore detrimental over the long-run:

When coupled with design and engineering practices informed heavily by behavioral data (and not necessarily personalized), addiction, dependence and a host of other concerns arise. In the moment, people may be satiated, but that doesn't mean they like who or what they've become if/when they reflect on their behaviors.

Lest this keep you up at night, just remember that personalization at scale is a really, really hard thing to do.

Content Personalization: A Reality Check

Episerver Partner Event in February. I'll be delivering the developer keynote at the Episerver Partner Close-Up on February 6 in Stockholm. My discussion will be about content experience, and what developers can do on "the other side of the publish button."

I'll be in and around Stockholm the preceding Sunday and Monday (February 3-4). I'm always interested in beer and conversation.