The following whitepapers were composed during the ten years between 2000 and 2010, and they address a constellation of topics that hover, roughly speaking, around managing and leveraging knowledge using open technologies or managing and leveraging technology using the knowledge available to the investing organization. Some of the ideas addressed have been superseded, some have evolved, and some have been retired. I keep them here as a matter of record and as a way to remember some of the paths I have followed.
The Emergence of Intelligent Content (2009)
This paper traces the history of open content technologies in an effort to understand the nature and significance of intelligent content. What is illustrated is that a common thread runs through SGML, HTML, XML, Web 2.0, the Semantic Web, DITA, OOXML, ePUB and HTML5 and that the evolution of open content standards has enabled the emergence of intelligent content technologies and with them a new form of organizational agility. This whitepaper underwent some minor updates in 2010 to reflect some late-breaking news (specifically the eBook revolution) which further drives home the central theme of the paper.
Adventures in Learning: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly in Professional Education (2008)
This paper chronicles one person's journey across the spectrum of available opportunities for professional development. This adventure runs over a 20 year period and it specifically focuses on opportunities that were relevant to a professional working in the intersecting fields of informatics and business management. As the title forewarns, some of the offerings encountered were quite good while others fell somewhat short of that standard. The offerings experienced range from short technical hands-on courses and industry events, through executive development sessions, and onto a range of university sponsored programs. It is hoped that this chronicle will provide some insights into the types of professional development investments that have yielded the most durable benefits and what features seemed to be most consistently associated with those successes. If the truth be known, the educational investments touched upon in this paper, in purely financial terms that ignore the real costs associated with the time invested, run to over half a million dollars. This rather sobering number would seem to demand that a reckoning be taken of what value has been realized through this investment and to what further use it might be put.
Adventures in Learning (175KB)
Content Technologies Case Study (2008)
This case study has undergone a number of revisions over the last three or four years. The initial version was prepared in 2003 and each subsequent version has amplified the details surrounding the process that was followed in the formalization, deployment and evolution of an enterprise content standard and associated solution. This case study tracks the experience of the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) as it moved through a series of initiatives each aimed at modernizing the way in which technical documentation was created, managed and published. The first of these initiatives was undertaken in the mid-1980s. The main focus, however, falls on the period between 1992, when a business case was prepared for what would become a successful initiative, and 2002 when this initiative was essentially concluded although the solution had been in "production" for several years by that time. The case study is instructive because it chronicles experiences that were accumulated over the course of many years, and many implementation projects, and it highlights a number of lessons learned that remain highly relevant now that, under the auspices of S1000D and DITA, many more organizations are venturing down this very same path.
Content Technologies Case Study (323KB)
The Anatomy of Knowledge (2006)
This paper advances definitions for knowledge, information and data and presents a framework that links these elements to a parallel hierarchy of judgment, action and experience. Although the paper was developed with recourse to a reasonable familiarity with many of the main treatments of this subject, it interestingly remained centered upon some ideas about the nature of knowledge, and hence knowledge management, that I developed in the mid-1990s. Specifically, the core definitions being proposed were part of a series of presentations given between 1998 and 2000, one of which was entitled "Managing Knowledge in the Fractal Enterprise". This paper emerged in part due to revisiting this presentation and in part due to some recent exchanges with KM practitioners on the basic concepts that underlie this area of practice.
The Anatomy of Knowledge (141KB)
Communities of Practice and the Agile University (2005)
This paper emerged during 2005 as part of a number of collaborative undertakings that revolved around the phenomenon of Communities of Practice. The venues for these exchanges included Royal Roads University and the online community about communities of practice (CPSquare). Some of these discussions focused on the implications of communities of practice for higher education and specifically for the university. This paper can be seen as a distillation of, and meditation on, these discussions. Also included with the paper is a reasonably useful bibliography of publications that address topics relevant to this theme.
XML Business Templates (2000)
This paper was delivered at XML 2000. Subsequently, it was expanded with the addition of an implementation example in 2006. It presents what had emerged in the early 1990s as a sound strategy for integrating systems and what has since become increasingly attractive as the general technology infrastructure has evolved along similar paths. In some ways, the XML business template strategy emerged as a response to many of the integration problems that seemed to come up in each and every project and especially when more than one organization was involved. It also emerged as a reaction against what had become a methodological weakness seen in many projects implementing SGML, and later on XML. In the final assessment, XML business templates would seem to provide a better way to express and validate the requirements that should govern application investments and especially those that will process complex knowledge assets and facilitate distributed business communities.
XML Business Templates (299KB)
Whitepapers on English History and Literature
The following collection of papers represent a selection of outputs prepared while I toiled away in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. As such these represent juvenalia. The papers reflect the indelible imprint of daily exposure to primary resources produced during what might be called the publishing revolution. Drilling down into the seemingly inexhaustible holdings of the Bodleian, I was able to become all too familiar with quirky and largely unknown characters such as John Dunton, an engagingly stereotypical Grub Street hack (although it should probably be said that his memory does deserve a little better treatment than this appellation provides). The presence of some of these details in these papers was one encouragement to salvage them from the oblivion of hardcopy form. Another reason for bringing these artifacts online is the fact that these papers illustrate what I suspect is a distinctive result of undertaking humanities research at Oxford. In a manner wholly unlike the prevailing trends in academic writing, where circumspection universally trumps clarity and where the voice of the author is all but extinguished in a continuous deferral to prior publications, these papers showcase quite a different philosophy. Accepting that there are of course disciplinary differences to be considered as well, I cannot help but think that a model derived ultimately from the medieval disputation will be one that encourages a more tangible presence for the author. In many ways I actually find this model more intellectually honest than some practices I encounter where error and prejudice can become infinitely resistent to criticism by being scattered amongst many cross-supporting authorities.
Also of note with these papers is the fact that many of them dig into various aspects of a key period in the history of information and communications - the late Seventeenth and early Eighteenth centuries, a time when presses began to roll on an unprecedented scale, newspapers and magazines first appeared, and many features of modern culture were born. Some of the better-known figures touched upon include Jonathan Swift, John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, William Hogarth, Samuel Johnson, Laurence Sterne, William Blake, William Godwin, and Isaac Newton.
- The Natural History of Grub Street (1989)
- The Significant Gift in Eighteenth Century English Literature (1989)
- Dignity and Certainty in Augustan Satire (1989)
- Sterne as a Poetic Novelist (1989)
- Failure and Sensibility (1988)
- Sensibility and the Innocent Eye of Medical Science (1988)
- The Apotheosis and Damnation of Sir Isaac Newton (1988)
- The Satiric Art of William Hogarth (1987)
- Jonathan Swift: Exile from Emotion (1987)
- Jonathan Swift Contra John Dunton (1987)
- The Will to Madness: Pride and the Meaning of Gulliver's Madness (1987)