As content sites on the web mature, they continue to blur the line between straight news sites, social hubs, and references for structured data. No longer are these sites just home to editorial content — many of them have created databases of the products they cover (take for example TC sister site CrunchBase offers a comprehensive directory of companies and people in the startup community). Unfortunately, content management systems and databases that run these increasingly diversified sites don’t always play nicely together. CrowdFusion, a TechCrunch50 finalist launching today, is an impressive new CMS system that’s looking to eliminate these hassles. To put things simply, the platform helps streamline content writing, database management, and social features by combining features of blogs, wikis, and more into one unified platform.
To help give an idea of exactly what Crowd Fusion can do, the startup walked us through the process of creating a blog post. First, the CMS can present a writer with stories they might want to cover: the platform has an integrated feed reader, which can intelligently determine when there’s a breaking story that your site has yet to write about. The CMS can then facilitate actually writing the post by importing excerpts into your new posts (with links to the original articles). It can also suggest related blog posts for you to include at the bottom of your post (you can simply drag and drop to rearrange or remove the stories).
Say a gadget blog wanted to write about a new phone that had just come out (today’s demo featured our super-secret iPhone Killer, the CrunchPhone). Because the CMS can integrate the site’s gadget database directly into the CMS, adding a new product is simple — you can add it to your database using a small widget on the same page that you’re writing your blog post in, without having to leave the page. And because the blog system is integrated with the product database, you can generate intuitive tables comparing multiple existing phones against the new one.
CrowdFusion has a plugin architecture so it’s extensible. The company is open-sourcing the CrowdFusion platform, and will be releasing it in public beta today.
Q&A with panelists Dick Costolo, Reid Hoffman, Sean Parker, Mike Schroepfer, and Robert Scoble:
DC: There are only so many blogs and companies that will need something like this. The millions of blogs out there won’t need this. We’re talking about the TechCrunch, Glams of the world. I think the challenge will be how big can you make the market?
RS: He didn’t say it, but (founder) Brian Alvey built the backend for Weblogs, Engadget, big publishing sites.
A: There are top publishers who know what I’ve built (big names like Engadget). But lots of people aren’t going to just immediately move over, so we open source it. Clicker is exactly the sort of thing you build on this.
RH: Getting people to adopt will have a slow curve. In tech I don’t think you’re ever the last everything. I think what you’re doing is exactly right, with plug-in arch and open source.
A:I’d love to be doing this for 10, 20 years.
A:We’re big fans of MySQL model where you have an industrial strength free product anyone can use. We figure we can build a valuable business with scaling, hosting, etc.
TC50: Crowd Fusion wants to be the ultimate tool for web publishing VentureBeat.