Category: Uncategorized

Your View: Was It Good Writing or a Poor Choice of Words?

Maybe your parents taught you to avoid the topics of religion and politics at the dinner table. It’s an especially wise practice at holiday times, when emotions typically run high and heated discussions between relatives about politically-sensitive issues can sometimes quickly degenerate into unholiday-like behavior. Smart parents discourage political and religious conversations at the dinner table (and stop them in their tracks when they overhear them) in an attempt to help ensure holiday dinners are remembered for their fabulous foods, not their food fights. That said, life is not one big family gathering. Religion and politics—and other topics that might be taboo at the dinner table—are certainly appropriate fodder to weave into many other conversations. But, is it appropriate for a writer sharing his opinions on The Content Wrangler website to use politically-charged language to illustrate a point, lead the reader down a specific thought path, or tempt them into clicking on a hypertext link? When does a writer go too far in attracting attention? Take for example Zev Winicur’s recent article, Beyond The Issues: Understanding US Presidential Candidates By Viewing Their Campaign Websites. Zev’s article was one of the most popular on our site during January 2008 and remains so today, likely because of the interest generated by the U.S. political process, as well as general interest from those who are involved in the discipline of web content...

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The Commons: Your Opportunity To Contribute To Describing The Worlds’ Public Photo Collections

The US Library of Congress serves as the national library for the United States, based in Washington, DC. With more than 134 million items preserved on some 530 miles of bookshelves, it’s also the world’s largest library. It’s not just home to books, the library also stores photos, maps, databases, movies, sound recordings, sheet music, manuscripts, and information in many other formats. It’s most recent public-private partnership with photo management and sharing service Flickr, dubbed The Commons, is the Library’s “first collaboration with a civic institution to facilitate giving people a voice in describing the content of a publicly-held photography collection. These beautiful, historic pictures from the Library represent materials for which there is no known intellectual property owner, and therefore, “no known copyright restrictions.” The project aims to make known the hidden treasures in the huge Library of Congress collection, and to demonstrate how adding user-generated metadata can make the collection even richer. The Commons is also a test model that other cultural institutions may use on day to share and redistribute the myriad collections of content held by cultural heritage institutions around the globe. Can Anyone Use Photographs With “No Known Copyright Restrictions?” For the time being on Flickr this new usage is being contained to the Library of Congress account. If the pilot is successful, the Library aims to allow other interested cultural institutions the opportunity...

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Component Content Management: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

By Paul Trotter, CEO Author-it Software Corporation More and more businesses are expanding into international markets. A critical success factor for this expansion is high quality, cost-effective, and timely translated written content. Responsibility for this typically falls on internal translation departments or localization partners. Translation comes at a high price, exceeding the cost of writing the original content after only a few languages. Current approaches to localization rely on technologies and processes that have minimal scope for improvement. The localization industry is under increasing pressure to find new ways to improve cost-efficiency, quality, and time-to-market. In this article, I will try to explain what content management is and how it can help your organization more efficiently write higher quality and more effective documentation, re-use and share content across documents, have strict control over standards and branding, publishing that content to print, help, and web formats, and significantly reduce the cost of localizing your content. What is Content Management? First, there is no single agreed definition. Content management is a relatively new discipline, and if you ask the many suppliers of content management software they all have different definitions. Of course most of them make the definition suit what their software does. It is fair to say that many people incorrectly regard content management as applying solely or mainly to the management and delivery of web content. This is a...

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Content Managers: Extract the Full Benefits of Structured Authoring

“You can watch your group’s functions become outsourced to lower-cost craftsmen overseas, or you can reshape the world of technical content manufacturing and turn the technical publication department into your company’s distinctive competitive advantage. To that better end, this article explores how a technical publication manager could set up a publication assembly line using recent advances in structured authoring.” By Eric Kuhnen, special to The Content Wrangler If you manage a technical publication department, search for the phrase “assembly line” in Wikipedia and study the paragraph entitled “Overview: a culmination of many efforts.” In the middle of that paragraph is the following sentence: …[T]he way that most manufactured products were made was that a single craftsman or team of craftsmen would create each part of a product individually by hand, using their skills and…tools…, and assemble them together into an assembly, making cut-and-try changes in the parts so that they would fit and work together…. If they saw only that sentence, most technical publication managers would mistake it for a description of today’s method for creating technical content. In reality, it’s a description of industrial manufacturing before the advent of the assembly line. What is in common practice in the early twenty-first century for creating technical content drove up automobile manufacturing costs in the early twentieth century, keeping cars out of reach of working class society. The solution to...

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Maturity Model Helps Companies Do DITA Right

By Michael Priestley and Amber Swope XML gives organizations a way to create richly-described, unstructured content. But until the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA), XML content traditionally was organized and written as monolithic documents — tightly coupled with organizational structures, such as pages and chapters, that rarely worked as independent, reusable units of content. DITA is simply the practice of taking huge XML documents and breaking them down into logical, topic-oriented chunks. Now, every content chunk is an inherently reusable asset that is coherent as an object within the overall document. DITA makes content more self-contained, and in that way, parallels Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the loosely coupled, self-contained objects at the heart of contemporary approaches to application development. Historically, developers built tightly coupled, massive applications for a specific function. SOA deconstructs those applications into sets of self-contained components that, when composed, address a specific function. Alternately, subsets of those components could be recomposed to create other applications to address other functions. Likewise, DITA enables modular, reusable content. And similar to SOA, DITA has far-reaching implications for organizational technology, process, and culture that must accommodate fundamental, pervasive change in content authoring. DITA impacts the way content is created, stored, managed, and consumed; the tools that are used; and the content authors, who must learn to think differently. For instance, DITA creates new opportunities to involve subject matter experts. Now,...

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