Content Management Systems are becoming mass-market, according to this story by Ben Hammersley about TypePad after an exclusive peak:
The features are remarkable: there is a very powerful, but extremely simple, template builder. Users can redesign their weblogs and create fully compliant XHTML pages, with out knowing what that last phrase means. There is a built-in photo album, built-in server stats, so you can see who is coming to visit you and from where, built-in blogrolling (listing the sites you like to read), and built-in listing for your music, books and friends, producing a complete friend-of-a-friend file for every user.
In short, with Typepad, SixApart has embraced almost every advance in weblogging over the past year, and wrapped it into a product my dad could use. It raises the bar for the personal publishing world in a way that the Blogger/ Google buyout promised but has yet to deliver.
TypePad is the first new consumer-grade weblogging product in more than a year, but it shows a change in the marketplace: grabbing the new middle ground of users who want all the advanced features of a self-hosted weblog, but none of the tears of having to learn about Linux or Perl or FTP. This should elevate the standard of weblogs in general, as it does away with any correlation between technical skill and artistic merit. We will no longer be reliant on geeks for top quality weblog reading. It takes the seething masses and pulls them up to the same technical level as the best Movable Type tweakers and hackers.
By creating content management systems with professional features, for around one thousandth of the price of the systems the large sites of the dotcom era were forced to use, the weblogging industry is rapidly creating new possibilities for people to make a living writing for the web.
The recent Gulf War which was fought as much in Iraq as in the media. It was our first war in the Internet era. The protests against the war in different parts of the world wer co-ordinated through the Net. Now, another development highlights our “small world”. Writes David Kirkpatrick in Fortune: “SARS demonstrates yet again how tiny our interconnected world has become. The epidemic, and our perception of it, are both very much a function of the Internet age.”
There is also a silver lining to it all. Adds David: “Even as certain risks grow greater in a connected world, so are remedies more at hand. The same Net-enabled system that set off the extra-loud alarms also allowed researchers worldwide to identify and decode the genetic sequence of the culpable virus in mere weeks. Unprecedented cooperation among labs in many countries-all linked together by the Internet-was the key to this quick work. It’s likely that similar cooperation will lead to effective treatments and perhaps a vaccine-much more quickly than in times past.”
On a related note, the NYTimes has a detailed look at how the SARS virus originated and spread:
In early January, alarmed health departments in Shunde, Heyuan and Zhongshan all reported the strange pneumonia clusters to Guangdong provincial authorities, who concluded that they were facing a highly infectious pneumonia caused by a previously unknown agent.
It is unclear whether that conclusion was passed on by provincial officials to the Ministry of Health in Beijing, or ever reported to international health agencies that might have conducted an early investigation into the problem. Instead, it would be another two and a half months before the strange pneumonia had a name, coined only after an Italian doctor working in Hanoi, Vietnam, alerted the World Health Organization about a similar new pneumonia he was seeing there.
And it would be three and a half months before China’s leaders would admit that their country had an epidemic of SARS. From January through the middle of March, doctors in Asia and Canada were encountering patients carrying a virulent and highly contagious germ, unaware that they were facing potentially lethal infection.
During that period, hundreds of health workers fell ill. During that period, well-meaning doctors were placing SARS patients in ordinary wards as they would patients with normal pneumonia and those patients were passing the infection on to hundreds of others.