Content in Motion Equals Content in Action

Piet Niederhausen, University Webmaster, Office of Information Services, Georgetown University

Robert Michael Murray, Director of Technology Strategy and Development, Office of Public Affairs, Georgetown University

Generation M

  • Eight-and-a-half hours of media activity a day in only six hours.

Web 1 to Web 2.0

  • From read-only to read/write.
  • Ofoto to Flickr.
  • Britannica Online to Wikipedia.
  • Personal Web site to Blogger.
  • Taxonomies top Tagging.
  • Stickiness to Syndication.

Web 2.0 Attributes

  • Platforms rather than applications.
  • Harnessing collective intelligence.
  • The value of data.
  • Continuous software development cycle.
  • Applications across devices.
  • Rich user experience/interface.

What Do We Want?

  • Our goal is to communicate and motivate, not to build a Web site.
  • Each site is just part of each user’s larger experience with many Web sites.
  • Content is mostly experienced in terms of users and themes, not organizational units.
  • Users are increasingly taking control of their content experience; they can receive content when and how they want it.

Metaphor: iTunes Software

  • Instead of entire albums, you can select and “program” tracks.
  • Tag tracks with metadata.
  • Arrange tracks in playlists.
  • Tracks are portable and can be shared.

Traditional Web Development

  • Content is created and handed to a developer who encodes it into a Web page.
  • Content is locked into that page.

What Do We Learn From iTunes

  • Make content granular; create content that can be used in multiple contexts.
  • Tag content with metadata.
  • Create flexible platforms for content.
  • Filter and group content as needed.
  • Make content portable across sites, devices, and media.
  • Multiple browsers and operating systems.
  • PDAs, phones, other devices.

Web Content Management Can Be iTunes for Your Communications

  • Define structured content types such as faculty, courses, news, and events.
  • Define metadata such as topics, audiences, and departments.
  • Make content portable across university Web sites and to other media such as RSS.

Current Georgetown Environment

  • History of decentralized Web communications (500+ separate subsites with 500,000+ URLs owned by 800+ individuals).
  • Layered approach to content management
    • Departmental CMS.
    • Institutional CMS.
    • Syndication layer: RSS, Podcasts, E-mail, SMS.
  • Purpose-built tools with a continuous development cycle.
  • Most of the work is carrots, with only a few sticks.

Institutional System

  • Main business objects
    • People.
    • Affiliations.
    • Courses.
    • Documents: Announcements, blogs.
    • Campus maps.
    • Events.
  • Context surrounding a faculty member
    • CV.
    • Media profile: In the news, Podcast.
    • Publications.
    • Research projects: Research resources.
    • Blog.
    • Departments: Discipline.
    • Courses: Course sites, syllabi.


  • University news: Storage of content in a centralized repository delivering information to multiple sites and to a syndication layer.
  • Filtered news: School of Foreign Service reports news links to a central communication office to add the information into the syndication stream.

Re-imaging the University Web

  • Access to more content improves university, department, and personal Web sites.
  • Content is portable, re-usable, and archived.
  • Content from across the university can be assembled to support university initiatives.
    • Thematic gateways.
    • Audience portals.

Audience and Thematic Gateways

  • Assembling syndication layer into a new environment.
  • Various topics: Science, math, technology.
  • Katrina communications vehicle.
  • Mortara Center for International Studies (university news and blessed blog content syndicated at right).


  • Culture changes
    • How we perceive the Web as a media — from pages to a platform.
    • Change in how content is produced.
    • Change in how Web sites are “owned” and how “sites” fit into the Web presence.
    • Change in how Web hosting is conceptualized and resourced.
  • Getting recognition for the professionalism of Internet communications.
  • Pushing the limits of available tools and policies.

Questions and Answers

  • Two-and-a-half to 3 person years of work for the institutional CMS.
  • All purpose built, Apache, ColdFusion, SQLServer, Fusebox framework.
  • CMS picked up data from campus-wide directories (LDAPs).
  • Policies are needed to guide an editorial selection of content that should rise up to the University home page.