Tech Talk

A guide to some of the terms and concepts in redeveloping the city website

Open Source: Software programming whose source code is publicly available so developers can tweak, overhaul, or supplement a program to their liking. Examples of open-source software include the Internet address system Internet Protocol and the Firefox Web browser. Open source is beginning to encompass broader issues, such as Creative Commons' copyright alternative encouraging collaboration, sharing, and repurposing.

Crowdsourcing: Taking a projech usually allotted to a single entity and instead enlisting the aid of a large group to get the task done – using Internet connectivity to share work and ensure that the tasks being performed aren't redundant. According to Wikipedia, Wikipedia itself "is often cited as a suc­cessful example of crowdsourcing," over the objections of co-founder Jimmy Wales, who worries it sounds like tricking people "into doing work for free."

Front End and Back End: As it relates to website design, the front end is the portion of a website visible and accessible to the public, while the back end is the portion that powers the requests made on the front end. The back end is visible only to website administrators.

Content Management System: The software that publishes the material – text, video, etc. – on a Web page and allows for the manipulation of the material (how long it stays up, where it appears, and so forth). The city intranet (an in-house website available only to city employees) is currently powered by Plone, an open-source content-management system, but city officials say it doesn't provide the functionality they'd like to see on the city's public website.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

city website, open source, crowdsourcing

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