THATCamp Bootcamp Intro to CMSes

Here are my notes from Session 1 at THATCamp/Bootcamp — and introduction to CMSes. Raf Alvarado’s talk on content modeling of CMSes was really interesting and helpful.

Patrick Murray-John

Intro to CMS

-Principle of modularity. What CMSs do is connect ‘buckets’ of data (header, contents, main content, plugin content, etc.)

-Where they differ isn’t in how they “look”, but how they construct their modularity.

CMS designed for extension.

The job of theme is to filter the buckets onto the page in attractive ways.

umwgeography — a good example for

In fact, I like UMW Geogrpahy better than UMW History/American Studies

Raf Alvarado

Raf’s principle: “In general, if you can use WordPress, then you should use WordPress.”

-Digital Media
—-Database-driven Websties
—-Content Management Systems (CMSes)

Content Model:
data model — database
emergent information architecture
this allows site builders to represent and organize content — eg source material in teh form fo images, text, and metadata
Content is complex — media objects (ef image and detail, book and page), technical metadata, semantic metadata

How much complexity to model?

CMSes content modeling affordances:
Elementary units (pages, nodes)
Connective devices (tags, categories)
* Display methods (widgets, feeds)

Drupal calls pages nodes

Combined, the three produce patterns.

In the hypertext world, the elementary unit is the page and the connective device is the link. No display devices for HTML, just pages.

Emergent structure? happy chaos.


Pages –> Subpages –> [flyout menues, menu widgets]

Posts related to others through tags and categories, as opposed to subpages

Tags –> Tag widgets, list pages
Categories –> Category widget, list pages

Content accessed by browsing, menus, and widgets.

Clay Shirky, “Ontology is Overrated”

WP results in “Dendritic Hypertext” — a dual structure, both hierarchical and rhizomic

Contetn MOdeling in WP

Think of course modeling —

Pages = Syllaubs Items
Posts = Lessons resources
Categories = Course Schedule
Tags = Resource subject and format

Thinking “what are we mapping things to?”

categories have parents and children, they’re hierarchical. Tags don’t.

I need to restructure my categories on parezcoydigo

Omeka has ITEMS

–DC metadata
–Tags –> Browsable list pages

Content is accessed by Browsing and EXHIBITS

Results = “Axial Hypertext” (term borrowed from Landow, Hypertext)

Allows for sequential hypertext, or sequential content model

You want the reader to go through a sequence — allowing the scholar to construct a sequential argument.

This is done in part by constructing exhibits.


–Menu paths –> Menus, blocks
–Arbitrary fields –> Views
–Node references –> LInked Views, backrefs
–Taxonomies –> List pages, Views
–Outlines –> Books

Content si accessed by Browsing, Views, Books, Panels, and other devices.

Drupal content models are like Relational Models — results in “Rhizomic Hypertext”

Nice slide demonstrating the content models of the three biggies.

Top level cuts:

Specific vs. general content modeling
* WordPress is general

Manual vs. Autamatic site organization
* Omeka is manual

Paradigmatic vs. Syntagmatic affordances
* Drupal is highly paradigmatic

* Course sites, personal portfolios, blogs (of course)

* Exhibits, simple thematic research collections

* Collaborative projects, complex thematic research collections, data meshing

Some Drupal examples:

A House Divided
implementation, using nodes to organize content.

Civil Rights Movement as Theological Drama — UVA site
Interviews as Actors
* Scenes, etc.


Associate Professor of Early Latin America Department of History University of Tennessee-Knoxville

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Posted in Conference Reports
2 comments on “THATCamp Bootcamp Intro to CMSes
  1. […] posted my notes from the three bootcamp sessions I decided to attend, on the most novice track: Intro to CMSes, Intro to Omeka, and Project Management. The hack track offered sessions on HTML5 and CSS3, hacking […]

  2. […] ngram viewer for the Latin American history classroom. Finally, I posted session notes on CMSs, Intro to Omeka, and Project Management from this year’s THATCamp Prime, as well as a roundup […]

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