Most excellent example of comments in a blog I have ever seen

Jack Slocum’s Blog » WordPress Comments System built with Yahoo! UI

My post over the weekend about missing some vital Lenovo mentions in the comments of blogs that I track yielded some excellent suggestions from faithful readers about various plug-ins and options to gain better insights into the sentiments of peanut gallery. Rick Klau at Feedburner, Mitch Ratcliffe at BuzzLogic, and Chris Murray, ex-of-CXO all chimed in with good pointers.

Then I find this baby. Jack Slocum took advantage of Yahoo’s open architecture and built a comment tool for WordPress that is to blogs what David Foster Wallace is to footnotes. Check out the expandable nav bar on the left. The ability to drop a comment on a specific point in a blog post. I am totally freaked and want it.

 

CSS evil strikes

The nastiest thing about WordPress and Cascading Style Sheets is their relative impenetrability to anyone other than a dedicated web monkey/producer. If you don’t work in this stuff for a living, then all you can hope for is a stable template, easy management and no bugs like the one that hit me this morning which is putting everything into italics. My patience wears thin. Sure, I can go into the admin console, hit “presentation” and do to myself what I did last winter when I took the entire blog down for a week and had to spend cash to get the coders at my ISP to un-befukticate me.

[Update: Ryan from the c-c-c-comments delivered the solution.]

Further messing with blog design

I finally — after the debacle in January — went back to Michael Heilemann’s Binary Bonsai, downloaded the 167 build of K2, unzipped it — backed up the MySQL databases and transformed Churbuck.com into a better looking place than the old 1.5 Kubrick which has held me together since 2003.

Then I decided to be done with the perpetual act of trashing my sidebar and converted to Widgets — which I still haven’t mastered but which at the very least give me some control in an Ajaxy way over what elements get displayed and which don’t. The header image I talked about late last week when I went scanner crazy on some old Cotuit photographs. I wish I had the time to get serious about CSS, but I know from keeping my HTML chops sharp in the 90s that such knowledge is wasted unless its practiced daily. Even so, the nerd manque within demands that I start getting dirty with code, be it page description, BASH shell commands, MySQL db structures …..

I think I need to set up a sandbox server and get really serious. This recent convalescence has given me a little time to steel wool the rust off of my techie talents, but nothing to the extent of the early 90s when I was beta-testing HotMetal Pro and Vermeer and turning down offers to write books about SGML …. sigh, now I worry about banner ROI and search engine optimization and other generic online marketing challenges.

I am further convinced that within 5 years we’ll see another revolution in site construction, management and display when the next Vermeer arrives to build a full WYSIWIG LAMP implementation out of the box. Do I think the average joe will become his own sysadmin? Never, but we’re still a very long way from having a content management system for the masses.

Bugs I’m detecting in K2– I can’t blog photos from within Flickr that will appear in Firefox. They are fine in IE but I am not fine in IE and I can’t figure out how to tailor the del.icio.us and Bloglines widgets to display my tags and blog roll. Time to move on to work related stuff. Migraines are gone. I don’t feel like I have morning sickness all day long, and I want to get back on the bike. More on that saga of how to convince an insurance company adjuster accustomed to pricing dented fenders on a Camry that yes, indeed, a person can be foolish enough to invest over $5,000 in a bicycle. The company thought they were dealing with a Huffy rider. Bah.

Auto-optimization

I may be dreaming here, but why couldn’t a metrics system such as Omniture be integrated into a CMS such as Interwoven, and based on rules, automatically shift traffic down predetermined paths?

Example: if a vendor is driving traffic through banner URLs and paid search to landing pages, and if there are multiple instances of those landing pages as part of a standard A-B/multivariate suite, why couldn’t the “winning” page begin to receive the majority of the clickstream as it wins out over its alternatives? The metrics system would need triggers that would run against a rules engine, modifying in real time the destination URLs to funnel traffic to the appropriate page.

It would seem the human interaction in the production-analysis-placement chain is the weakest link in the flow. I need to think more on this one and see where it goes.

cmurray.org » The Content Management Gap – Part II

cmurray.org » The Content Management Gap – Part II

Chris Murray throws down the challenge — why isn’t there a mid-tier CMS solution between the realm of opensource and the heights of enterprise CMS?

I say there needs to be an ASP model. There’s no justification for a company to consider CMS management a strategic IT investment. For those who do, they build their own and tune it to their model. For them’s that don’t, they need to treat it as a utility.

Centralization vs. De-Centralization in Global Web Ops

I have never operated in a multilingual web environment, managing the so-called “localization” of content into multiple languages. At IDG, global publishing was handled on a very de-centralized model, with the flagship brands writing in English and then licensing that content to country-based operations who in turn would pay to have the content translated into their local language, adding in local reporting in that same tongue to build a country-specific superset of the original brand.

Decentralization to gain operational agility is a noble cause, and one I support, but in IT enabled business models it can quickly grow a lot of hair, particularly when corporate messaging and brand management come into the picture. Look at CIO.com and compare it to the Polish version, CXO.pl, and you’ll see what I mean. The Polish operation completely rebranded the domain, creating a variant against the CXO brand, using their site as a portal into other c-level titles.

Having just read IBM Redux, an account of the Gerstner turnaround of IBM in the 1990s, one of the biggest issues that Gerstner and his CFO Jerome York had to confront was the extent to which the company’s “Geos” or geographic businesses, had completely gone off on their own, competing internally and raising havoc with the financial and managerial controls across the company.

Pat McGovern, the founder of IDG, says he adopted a very loose, de-centralized structure after returning from a business trip to find a packed inbox, realizing that he was the bottleneck and that he had to loosen his controls so the business could thrive.

Decentralization was, I think, a necessity in the days before ERP and content delivery networks. The one thing that technology cannot remove is the reality of time zones and the complexity of cross-country meeting and calendar coordination. But time-shifted communications — I’m talking fancy talk for email — and voicemail, has all but obviated the need for a decentralized management model.

If the corporate model for a global enterprise is viewed at three levels — worldwide operations at the headquarters level, geographic which encompasses regions: (EMEA, Asia Pacific, etc.) and then country-level — then the importance of a rational command-and-control structure becomes clear. The trick, for a CEO, is, to borrow the phrase from McKinsey’s Dick Foster in Creative Destruction, to “loosen control without losing control.”

I raise this issue of global governance as I enter the early stages of organizing a network of over 70 sites. While there are obvious economic and operational benefits to a centralized hub model, one predicated on a master corporate database, there is less clarity on how to organize centrally while extending local control and translation down to the country level where the expertise resides. Last week I met with Eli Singer, CEO of Web Collage, and he said the notion that translation must be decentralized is misinformed and that cost savings and managerial control can be achieved in a central hub.

I could always follow my brother’s advice, one echoed by an Englishman I met at Ogilvy & Mather last week, and that is what I call “Texan Translation”: wear a ten-gallon hat and yell English very loudly until people understand you. (The Englishman smiled and said in a loud voice: “I SAID, MAY I HAVE A CUP OF TEA?”) All kidding aside, and abject apologies to the world at large for being yet another American mono-linguist, there is no Web esperanto or precedence for English taking over the world of ecommerce any time, ever, soon. Airplanes, ships .. some industries and professions have standardized on English. Not commerce.