I’ve taken a corporate contract job for reasons I may or may not write about here and I’ve now been in the position long enough to be pretty dulled by the buffoonery of the whole enterprise. I’m in the web department doing front-end code for a major company on a very specific project so I know my experience doesn’t reflect the entirety of their web business. That said, what this corporate business has done is not streamline their business to work better online but instead taken the speed, flexibility and general all-around usefulness of the web and reduced it to the drab, over-bureaucratized, over-analyzed snail’s pace of every other aspect of corporate work.
Take for example their “content management system” — a dinosaur called TeamSite from a company called Interwoven. I put “content management system” in quotation marks because it actually isn’t a CMS but instead a file management system. The corporation has never implemented the software as a CMS (I don’t know how long they’ve had it) so all TeamSite does is upload files to their server. But in a slow, byzantine way. It serves no purpose to have an expensive piece of software like this and use it as a shabby excuse for an FTP1 program.
We are promised an expansion to TeamSite called SitePublisher which will give us very powerful content management and presentation tools. I’ve seen several demos but I have yet to see any feature that isn’t found in the best open source CMS software and many features lacking that are out-of-the-box in WordPress. (I’d put Joomla and Drupal up there as enterprise level open source CMS packages even though I have very limited experience with them so I can’t speak to their features.)
Yet in the meantime, as we await SitePublisher, we are unable to simply put our new project online. It must first be “imported” into TeamSite and then deployed to staging (the permission to do this has so far been denied me by the IT department). Then someone with permissions even higher will deploy to the actual web server.
If this all sounds like Greek to you, let me simplify: armed with WordPress MU and $120 for a year of commercial hosting, I could have 40 sites on line within two weeks. I would charge substantially more per hour than I receive as a contract worker but I could have it done.
The web encourages immediacy, action, engagement. And I know I can’t stay for long in a position which denies all that to its web department.
1 File Tranfer Protocol applications are programs that connect to a web server and give the user a file view of the files on the server and the harddrive. Users can simply upload files from their harddrive to the web server and they’re live on the site.