WordPress: power and simplicity

Subtitle: Are we ready to take WordPress as a CMS seriously yet?

Power Lines

This is a post that was inspired by both a question on OLDaily as well as a post about Drupal documentation on Half an Hour. I originally threw out a flippant response to the “Joomla or Drupal?” question in regards to open source content management systems, that was appropriately handed right back to me. This, along with a recent momentous event, further encouraged me to sit down and spend some time framing a series of thoughts about WordPress (bordering on a misguided passion at this point) I have been raving about for well over a year now.

The common criticisms I hear about WordPress are that while cute for blogging, it can’t do much in terms of sophisticated Content Management and more granular permissions. Let’s take a moment here and think about these two “shortcomings” in relationship to how many of the best minds in ed tech have begun to conceptualize distributed learning networks in terms of more personalized spaces. In turn, these ““Personal Learning Environments,” “Virtual learning Environments,” and/or “Virtual Learning Spaces” (the terminology is still uncertain and in flux but all share a common core of an online space where users can shape their learnings through content creation, links, aggregation, integration with 3rd party online services, etc. -see recent discussions here, here, and here) while being in a direct relationship with others that feed out into the various services and designated spaces while also quickly and easily ingesting, feeding out, and represent information to reflect the goings on of a distributed learning network -and hopefully with some intelligent filtering, variegated coupling, and visually pleasing re-presentations. Stephen Downes says it better:

Very similar to EduRSS in concept design is the student version of the same idea, generally known as the Personal learning Environment. The PLE differs from EduRSS in that it depends explicitly on external services (such as Flickr, del.iciop.us, Blogger and the like) for data retrieval and storage. The ‘node in the network’, with the PLE, is actually virtual, distributed over a number of websites, and also very portable (ideally, it could be implemented on a memory stick).

Now the point has been, and should remain, that and individual within a given network should be able use the numerous tools she prefers and “they” (they! who in the hell is ‘they‘?) should find ways to aggregate, filter, and reflect relationships through topics using RSS, RDF, category tags, etc. (also known in certain abject circles as EDUGLU!).

Given this as a basis to move within and from (while at the same time acknowledging that web authoring tools may once again radically change or become interchangeable some time soon) -why are so many folks so quick to discount, or fail to even consider, WordPress as an ideal content management system for the more distributed learning networks that have been on so many people’s minds as of late? Why is a more simplistic blogging platform with an insane user and development community an ideal CMS for distributed learning networks? Well, it’s ideal in a few senses within some very specific contexts, let me try and be both specific and clear.
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Original post by jimgroom

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I am Jim Groom
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