Chapter 9: Content and Commentary: Single-sourcing and Content Management Systems (CMS)

When I read this chapter, one quote stood out from all of the text. Lakeman tells us that hypertext has the “potential to reconfigure the activities of its writers, substituting the isolated production of closed documents with dynamic webs of intertextuality.” (144) What he is really saying is that hypertext removes the concept of lone writers, and creates a framework for collaborative writing. He also states that wikis are “relatively unique as a popular model of electronic writing.” (145) I would beg to differ.

In a recent class, horror was expressed by some of the students when discussing the concept of single-sourcing documents and utilizing content management systems (CMS). It was felt that single-sourcing takes away the author’s voice and substitutes a technology-driven anonymity. In addition, they felt the result was text with a sterile aspect, voiceless and devoid of any human connection necessary to make it consumer-friendly. How is this different from wikis?

The entire concept behind single-sourcing and CMS is to remove the lone writer from their position of creating entire documents in isolation. Instead, single-sourcing and CMS are designed to store text in smaller chunks to be readily used for various document types. These smaller chunks of text can be created, modified and edited by any number of different writers. Changes and editing either update the source text to a new version, or create a new document chain. Some CMS have commenting feature, much like the discussion aspect of a wiki. Single-sourcing and CMS are especially pertinent for updating in smaller bits, with the updates being immediately applied across all documents that utilize those data chunks.

We are reading about wikis as a collaborative, communal activity that creates a democratic social composition. Many of the same aspects that make wikis a collaborative, communal activity, apply equally to single-sourcing and CMS. The biggest difference is the motivation to create and contribute. Wikis are driven by personal satisfaction and the psychic income that comes from freely sharing with others. Single-sourcing and CMS are work-related, and therefore are profit-driven mechanisms. It takes away one of the aspects that motivates workers to produce and achieve, that motivation is the tie between showing one’s work and the reward of payment received for that work.



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