Saturday, August 30, 2008

Opportunities in Digital Media and Online Collaboration for Young Technology Entrepreneurs

"If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." -- Isaac Newton, to Robert Hooke in 1676

All of us who work with internet technologies or benefit from it are standing on the shoulders of giants. For background understanding, I encourage to read more about the history of the internet and the world wide web here:

Introduction to DotNetNuke (DNN) Videos
The rest of this post will provide background information and resources about the DotNetNuke and Joomla open source web application and content management systems. To see them in action before reading on, watch this brief introductory video first:

More Video Content
You can watch dozens of videos from the recent OpenForce DotNetNuke Conference on YouTube here: This videos give you a behind-the-scenes look at the developers and companies using DNN professionally and show you the future road map for the technology.

Background: Getting Tangled in the WWWeb
The integration of web technology into our work and play is nothing short of overwhelming. It's hard to keep up. Every business is online. Every individual is online, whether it's through MySpace, Facebook, or maybe just on How do aspiring technology entrepreneurs go about dealing with this? What are some core lessons and resources they need to understand before they can solve business problems for their customers?

The rest of this post starts to answer these questions by introducing web portal technologies and explaining how you can use them to get businesses online fast and then deliver value-added services to differentiate yourself and your customers from the competition.

Getting Businesses, Organizations, and Individuals Online 13 Years Ago Required Custom Programming
When I started developing web-based internet applications in 1995 I did so using "plain old" HTML, Javascript, PERL, and the CGI.PM module for forms processing. The sites I created allowed people to create an account, login, update a preferences and interests profile, and share information with others.

Getting Businesses, Organizations, and Individuals Online Today is Much Simple and Offers New Opportunities
These days, you'd be a fool to create all that "by hand". Why reinvent the wheel? Why not build on top of an existing stable platform that offers you all of those basic features plus the ability to extend the platform with your own custom modules that address a specific need? That is exactly what smart people are doing by downloading and installing frameworks like DotNetNuke (DNN), Joomla, or many others.

Business Goals and Technology Alignment
If you are a young entrepreneur eager to help solve real business problems for your clients, then you have to put yourself in their shoes. Most businesses want to achieve a number of things, including:
  • Increased sales revenue that translates to higher net profits
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Market penetration
  • Name and brand recognition
You'll notice there is nothing there about technology. That is because, for most businesses, technology is only a vehicle toward achieving these other goals. That is not true for all businesses, but for most it is.

The lesson learned is that technology must be aligned with business goals. Businesses drive technology adoption. This is not to say that new technologies don't often spawn the creation of hitherto unforeseen business models. Just look at eBay, for example. However, the underlying motivational factor for eBay is the sale and transfer of exchangeable goods and services. The eBay web site simply enabled that to take place in a much easier way for millions of people.

The first step for many companies is that they need to get online and get online fast. That is where web portal technologies come in.

Opportunities for Young Technology Entrepreneurs in the Web Portal Space
At its simplest, a web portal is simply a site that presents links and information about other sites. or resources. If you read the wikipedia entry,, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the various types of portals.

At the large scale, sites like Yahoo! or or are portals. But, individuals and traditional companies, both large and small, also use portal technologies. They do this to make it easy to present their information and service offerings to their customers and partners.

A web application / portal framework is a software package that provides all the required functionality to operate a web portal. There are many examples of web portal frameworks. This often crosses over into the content-management space, and, as such, a great place to learn more is at I'm going to mention one that I know most about and another that is extremely popular.

The DotNetNuke (DNN) Web Application / Portal Framework
DotNetNuke is an open source web application / portal framework that is free to download, use, modify, and extend to suit your needs. There are many free and commercial extensions available for download or purchase that address specific business and collaboration needs.

Here is an excerpt from the DNN home page about the framework. Visit this page to read more and watch videos about installing and using it:

Web Application Framework
DotNetNuke is an open-source Web Application Framework ideal for creating and deploying projects such as commercial websites, corporate intranets and extranets, online publishing portals, and custom vertical applications.

DotNetNuke is provided as open-source software, licensed under a BSD agreement. In general, this license grants the general public permission to obtain the software free-of-charge. It also allows individuals to do whatever they wish with the application framework, both commercially and non-commercially, with the simple requirement of giving credit back to the DotNetNuke project community.

DotNetNuke is built on a Microsoft ASP.NET (VB.NET) platform, and is easily installed and hosted. With a growing community of over 440,000 users, and a dedicated base of programming professionals, support for DotNetNuke is always close at hand.

DNN Opportunities for Value-Added Services
What's most exciting for young technology entrepreneurs is that DNN offers you the ability to get your clients up and running in almost no time. You can then provide your own value-added services, like graphic design, custom skinning, custom theming, and even custom module development on top of the base framework.

There is already far more information about this available elsewhere, so visit to learn more about this software that you can use to help get your customers online.

To take a quick tour of the features and functionality of DNN, just click through the Guided Tour here:

Here are a few more resources specific to aspiring graphic artists, skin authors, and module developers:

The Joomla Content Management System
Joomla is another very popular and widely adopted open source platform for content management. I have not personally used Joomla, so I will just give you some information from the Joomla web site. You'll have to visit the site and check it out yourself to learn more at htp://

What is Joomla?
A content management system is software that keeps track of every piece of content on your Web site, much like your local public library keeps track of books and stores them. Content can be simple text, photos, music, video, documents, or just about anything you can think of. A major advantage of using a CMS is that it requires almost no technical skill or knowledge to manage. Since the CMS manages all your content, you don't have to.

What are some examples of what Joomla can do?
Joomla is used all over the world to power Web sites of all shapes and sizes. For example:
  • Corporate Web sites or portals
  • Corporate intranets and extranets
  • Online magazines, newspapers, and publications
  • E-commerce and online reservations
  • Government applications
  • Small business Web sites
  • Non-profit and organizational Web sites
  • Community-based portals
  • School and church Web sites
  • Personal or family homepages
You can learn much more at

I hope this post has educated you about business and career opportunities in web technologies. You should understand that there are many technologies available to assist in your quest and that learning from those who came before you and utilizing the advances that they made can be your biggest boost toward getting started. To learn more, feel free to contact me at jsgough gmail com.

Best regards,
Josh Gough