Somewhere between the winding down of Octoberfest and the opening of the Christmas Market, Munich plays host to a different type of event. In stark contrast to the more famous events, this one proceeds without much fanfare. In fact, only a small community even knows about it. It is, in more than a few ways, the meeting of a secret society. The secret society is made up of people from around the world who collaborate on the advancement and application of the Darwin Information Typing Architecture or DITA. The goal of DITA, and of this community, is to provide organizations... Read more →

Fail early and fail often. This could stand as the clarion call of agile methods. Don’t tell, show – is another version. A close relative of this one is “talk is cheap”. In my military training, one rather extreme edict we learned was “a bad plan executed with speed and violence is better than a good plan” with this being a rather unbalanced variation on Patton’s already strident observation on the subject of strategy. Basically all this boils down to “learn by doing”. If this line of thinking is applicable to both software projects and battlefields, it is even more... Read more →

A question that comes up from time to time, and indeed one I pose to myself quite regularly, is how does the investment in industry event participation pay off. The first answer is usually that it is a way to generate business leads. This is true but it is also superficial. If that is the only goal then there are definitely more effective ways to proceed which are also less taxing. So what then might be another potential benefit that we could use to justify the investment of time and energy that is called for? At the recent Intelligent Content... Read more →

The time of year has arrived that usually prompts me to think about the relatively obscure topic of “intelligent content”. It is prompted in part by the prolonged effects of a Canadian winter. It is also prompted in each of the last six years by the approach of the Intelligent Content Conference. With an eye on that approaching event, and given that the range of speakers and attendees at ICC will be wider than ever, I thought I would assemble a short primer on Intelligent Content. In doing so, I will tap into articles and posts that I have written... Read more →

At the Lavacon 2013 Conference, I gave a lunchtime keynote address entitled "Breaking Bad Content". It being a lunchtime keynote, I opted to do a few things differently. Perhaps most striking of these was appearing on stage more-or-less in character as Walter White. The other was adopting a presentation format that relied almost exclusively on images from the famed AMC television series "Breaking Bad". And related to the reliance on images, I also deployed a number of stories as a way to illustrate some of the core themes. All of this was intended to work with the lunchtime keynote format... Read more →

Content Strategy has many faces. Some of them have become quite popular of late. And that is all for the good. As usual, I tend to zero in on aspects that are less popular at least in part because they lie beneath the surface. Let's start with the familiar parts. We hear a good deal about how a sound content strategy helps to make your product something people can find when they are looking for something and that can help these people to learn about your product so that, at the end of the day, it is the one they... Read more →

It has been a year since I spend a few weeks on beautiful Denman Island, British Columbia. Aside from doing a few other things, I did find some time to work on some models of the Content Lifecycle - usually in the early mornings and usually while drinking coffee on the cabin balcony where I would be distracted by the view across the channel to Hornby Island. A terrible burden, I would agree. Nonetheless, I did go through many iterations of a Content Lifecycle model in addition to a good deal of coffee. It proved a challenging exercise because I... Read more →

Some time has passed since I attended this year's Intelligent Content Conference (2013) in San Francisco. At this year's gathering, I delivered a featured presentation as part of the closing plenary session called "Professional Publishing: Intelligent eBooks for Working Professionals" (the slides are provided below). This proved to be an interesting topic because it touched upon the very practical question of how to create genuinely useful eBooks for working professionals. It was also an interesting topic because it opened the door to a discussion about what professionals really do and therefore what they really need from the information reference tools... Read more →

Reuse is an interesting practice. The idea behind it basically boils down to finding something that already exists that can be used to fill a need. If everything works out you can avoid the sweat and anguish that invariably comes with creating something anew. Seems pretty straightforward. Of course, nothing is quite as simple as it appears. And reuse is no different in this regard. Actually, reuse as a practice and as an idea comes in many different shades. I had considered naming this post “Fifty Shades of Reuse” but I figured that if I was going to invite, and... Read more →

It might just be the effects of a particularly cold February day but for whatever reason I have found myself thinking about the question "Has XML failed Publishing?" That same question sparked my last post which tracked an admittedly quixotic path of inquiry into "Why Content Technologies are Hard to Implement". And this question has stirred up a number of distant, and hopefully germane, memories. And these memories have tended to cluster around a very specific figure in the history of markup languages and content technologies - someone who we would do well to reaquaint ourselves with more often than... Read more →