John P. Hunt's blog

blogs and fonts...

Gee, I'm observing in my first several blog posts here, that I'm spending more time worrying about fonts and presentation than my content.

Where's that DITA backend we need for wikis and blogs?

(as I wonder how this one will look after submitted...)


Bruce Esrig and "cognitive load" of XML

At CMS 2006, Bruce Esrig of Lucent spoke on the topic of Cognitive Load of XML.

Bruce is a deep thinker. (He's also a charter member of the DITA OASIS TC.) This was a very thoughtful and thought-provoking presentation.

I was ready for a ppt on "how to overcome" this cognitive load, but Bruce makes the opposite case - that this cognitive load makes XML more attractive, both as a way to provide content to our audience that demands highly flexible and highly available information and also to the content developers. XML authoring requires a new combination of conceptual skills and practical expertise in envisioning information design and creating the actual content. He nicely ties these thoughts into chunks, templates, standard content, guidelines, and collaboration.

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more thoughts on DITA from CMS 2006

a few more stray thoughts about my CMS 2006 experience...

Keep pushing topics

There's still a lot of need to keep pushing the topic-based paradigm. The book-oriented focus still reigns supreme for a lot of content developers and deliverers. Though more people "get" it than don't, there's plenty of pressure to relax the topic-based approach and allow for creating content with chapter-length topics with deeply nested sections and relaxed typing. We need to learn how to manage this, so that DITA *can* effectively extend its reach beyond technical docs, but also keep the virtues of topic-based, structured semantics in place.

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coast to coast and back again

For my first post, file this in the category of watching out what you wish for - what with all the new collaboration technology that lets you work with people without ever having to actually sit in the same room with them, I often yearn for the chance to travel and get to meet a lot of these people I work with.

Well, after just returning from the pretty amazing CMS 2006 conference in San Francisco, I head off tomorrow to attend the 14th annual WritersUA in Palm Springs.

CMS 2006 was an amazing experience. And has DITA arrived, or what? In the introductory remarks, Joanne Hackos reported a 68% increase in attendance this year compared to last, almost all of that due to DITA. Fully 27 out of the 42 sessions had DITA in their title, not including demos. At Andrea Ames' packed session on information architecture, a raise of hands showed that all but three people out of over the 100 there had come to the conference specifically to learn more about DITA. Each of the 20+ vendors in attendance had a major focus on DITA.

And the level of discussion about DITA generally went well beyond the basic intro level. Lots of lively and detailed discussions about the best collection-type attributes in map topicrefs, source-only vs. target-only linking, the structure of a task topic and how to extend it, and so on.

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