Month: August 2007

Anne Gentle vs JoAnn Hackos: Is There a Documentation Wiki In Your Future?

By Anne Gentle, special to JoAnn Hackos’ recent article titled Is a Documentation Wiki in your Future? struck a chord with me because of my upcoming article about wikis for technical documentation in the September/October issue of STC’s Intercom. I know that many writers have wikis in their present and future. I have talked with people who have acquired a company with a wiki and had to figure out what to do with it in addition to the wiki they had already started. Merge the two? Maintain separate ones? I don’t know what they decided, but I do know this: wikis are not too far in the future for many of us, as this list shows—they are here now. Because of my upcoming article and the research I’ve done on wikis over the past couple of years, I think that JoAnn’s article provides good information. JoAnn’s guidance has been valuable for all of us over the years. However, her wiki best-practice information is unfortunately buried under alarmist anecdotes that do not capture the spirit of wiki development that is already happening in corporations. I’d like to review the article here and offer commentary to help others get to the great conclusions at the end. Nerd customer scenario The initial scenario presented in JoAnn’s article, erasing rather than editing a wiki article, is considered an act of vandalism in...

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DITA Test Drive Challenge: A Great Deal If You Ask Us

Sometimes the sheer volume of information on the internet is overwhelming. Even with the help of Google Alerts and RSS feeds, it’s easy to miss interesting news. That’s likely the reason we failed to notice this especially interesting offer from the folks at Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL). It’s called the DITA Test Drive Challenge, a program that allows content-heavy organizations a shortcut to DITA. For $3000 (okay, $2995, technically), DCL will convert 500 pages of legacy content to DITA and perform a Content Reuse Analysis on 2500 pages of legacy content. Wow! That’s quite an offer. Why would you want to take advantage of this offer? Because there’s a dirty little secret in XML authoring land. It’s next to impossible to evaluate an XML authoring tool without actually using some of your own content in it. Testing an XML editor with your own content will help you avoid selecting the wrong authoring tool for your organization. Those who skip this step generally purchase software based on the opinions of others and sometimes after having downloaded a free trial version of the software (which is pretty useless without your own DTD and some real content). Add to the mix that many folks shopping for XML authoring tools are also, for the very first time, going to attempt to move their staff toward structured XML authoring, increasingly with DITA as the...

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Making The Business Case for Web Content Management: First, Admit You Have A Problem

By Michael Silverman, CEO, Duo Consulting What is Content Management? Businesses and organizations that have large amounts of information to provide to users need a method for guiding that information from creation through editing, approval, publishing and maintenance to archiving. This process is generally referred to as content management. While the concept of content management has been around for a long time—newspapers have been using it for decades—it’s a relatively new term for most people. The rise of digital technology and the proliferation of Web sites have brought content management to the mainstream. All organizations, from large businesses with thousands of digital documents to small organizations with simple Web sites, find themselves having to deal with ever increasing amounts of information. Within the field of content management, more specific terms have evolved. Enterprise content management or ECM encompasses all the information of an organization and may include print documents, records, computer applications, images, multimedia files, etc.  Web content management or WCM refers just to that information that is made available via the Internet. In this piece, we will focus on WCM. As it became easier to publish content on the Web, many organizations discovered the need for a system to consistently manage content. A content management system or CMS is usually computer- or Web-based software that helps organizations manage their content collaboratively and efficiently. So how do you know...

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The Rockley Blog: A Handy Online Reference for Content Creators and Managers

Add another blog to your daily reading list (and by all means subscribe to the the RSS feed). The content management gurus at The Rockley Group have published their first blog, aptly named, The Rockley Blog. Of interest to folks looking for a standard XML schema is the post, DITA: Not Just for Tech Docs, which outlines several reasons why the popular XML authoring standard may also be appropriate for non-technical content, in part because DITA allows for specialization. Keep an eye on this blog! We...

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Josh Porter on The Psychology of Social Design

Joshua Porter, a web designer, researcher, and writer from Newburyport, MA, has made available a presentation slide deck and resource list of interest to professional communicators who are keen to better understand the psychology of social design.  It’s an interesting look at the potential value of interaction with customers and the impact social design concepts may have on organizations attempting to establish better customer relationships. The concepts Porter discusses in the presentation are regular fodder for his blog, Bokardo, an online publication we find particularly useful. Download this presentation as a PDF. Check out the companion resource...

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