Squirrel Notes Issue #33

This issue was published on Monday, August 5, 2019.

Small Feature Award: The upcoming Boye and Company conference in Aarhus is in November, they're awarding the Small Feature Award, which I just think is a great idea:

In this new contest, we celebrate the unsung heroes of the workplace: The small features that make all the difference. Selected vendors will present six-minute walkthroughs showing the best small features of their system.

It's the tiny things that can make a huge difference, and I can't wait to see what some of the vendors show off here.


All Hail the Metator: This Wired article about a fanfiction site and how it got organized is a good way to understand the category/tag, top-down/bottom-up dichotomy. The site uses a combination of author provided meta and human evaluation:

On AO3, users can put in whatever tags they want. Then behind the scenes, human volunteers look up any new tags that no one else has used before and match them with any applicable existing tags, a process known as tag wrangling.

This is Bob Boiko's concept of the “metator” come to life. Boiko presented this idea in his Content Management Bible almost 20 years ago. Here's RSG commenting on the idea in 2009:

Metators are really contextualizers. They look beyond the item of information itself to understand things like its relationships, impact, trajectory, findability, alternate formats, and potential consumption profile.


Content vs. Content-ish: I asked on Twitter if categories were “full” content or some other structure.

In CMS, we have “full” content (like, a modeled Article type), and then we have… content-ish stuff. Like categories, for instance…

That prompted a good debate in the following thread, and also this entire article by Joe Miller:

Authoring and Assembling: We're asking too much from our content management systems

He applies some semantics – “creating” vs. "curating" and “authoring” vs. "assembling."

Assembling content – like curating a museum – requires a particular set of skills. Those skills aren't the same as the ones required for writing content, nor are they the same as the ones required for writing good CSS or applying security updates.


WordPress in the NYTimes: A few issues back, I searched for the oldest reference to Drupal in the New York Times archive. This time, it's WordPress.

The oldest reference is from 2005 in a how-to about adding video to your blog. But the next oldest, from 2006, is more interesting:

Six Apart Gets $12 Million (But Most Bloggers Knew That)

The article is about a new round of fund-raising for the parent company of Movable Type (at that time). It includes this note:

Full disclosure: The New York Times' blogs run on WordPress, a Movable Type rival.

Thirteen years later, I'm not sure if this is still the case (the part about NYT being on WordPress; certainly not the “rival” part…). The NYT has had an internal CMS called Scoop for quite a while now, and I know they have some subscription sites running on Magnolia.


Web Project Guide: Almost One-Third Complete: The Web Project Guide continues to expand. We are eight chapters in now (of a planned 26). We published two more chapters today:

Chapter 7: Know Your Content

One of the challenges in rebuilding any website is figuring out what do with the existing content. But before you can do any analysis make any decisions, you simply need know what it all is.

Chapter 8: Gather Insight From Your Metrics

A website generates lots of numbers representing how visitors behave. What numbers are important, meaning what numbers can translate to some measure of “success” in non-numeric terms?

Thanks to our friends at Magnolia for sponsoring this project.