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Content is data: pushing re-use to the limit
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Content is data: pushing re-use to the limit


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  • 1. Content is data: pushing re-use to the limit. Dr. Adrian R Warman
  • 2. Agenda
    • Introduction
    • Technical content and enterprise data
    • Real world examples
    • Re-use: panacea or problem?
    • Controlling re-use
    • Best practices
    • Conclusions
  • 3. Introduction
    • Who am I?
      • Dr. Adrian R. Warman
    • Where do I work?
      • Hursley Park, Winchester IBM United Kingdom Limited
    • How can you contact me?
      • Tel: +44-1962-819176
      • Email: [email_address]
      • Google+: Adrian Warman
    • What do I do?
      • Information Architect
    • Disclaimer
      • Any views or opinions expressed in this presentation are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent official positions, strategies or opinions of International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation.
      • No guarantees are offered as to the timeliness, accuracy or validity of information presented.
    • Acknowledgement
      • Clip art used in this presentation is from the Open Clip Art Library
  • 4. Terminology: Re-use   
  • 5. Technical content and enterprise-level data
    • Most organizations depend on 'scalable' repositories:
      • Database content.
      • Development source code.
      • Standard tools / applications / spreadsheets.
      • Documentation.
    • They provide a single 'go-to' location for organizational material.
      • Reduces duplication.
      • Helps with version management.
    • Provides an opportunity:
      • Technical content created and stored for one purpose might be re-used for another purpose.
        • Manuals / guides.
        • Training materials.
        • Product literature.
      • Especially if it can be accessed through a 'portable' format: XML or SQL.
  • 6. Real world examples
    • Many 'personalized' documents.
    • Pharmaceuticals.
    • GIS.
    • Product development
      • Software, in particular
    • But ….
  • 7. Re-use: panacea or problem?
    • Does re-use scale?
      • An example.
    • Suggestion: Recognize that solving one problem introduces another.
    • Suggestion: Distinguish between re-using and re-purposing.
  • 8. Controlling re-use
    • Rockley [] identifies four ways of controlling re-use:
      • Opportunistic reuse
      • Systematic reuse
      • Nested reuse
      • Workflow
    • Suggestion: Think about the distinction between controlling re-use and managing re-purposing.
  • 9. Best practices 1
    • Identify re-purposing 'dimensions'.
    • Be cautious about adding dimensions.
    • Think about whether you are really re-purposing, or simply sharing.
    • Is the content Factual?
      • Static, resilient, rarely changes.
      • Good candidate for re-purposing [Green flag] .
    • Is the content Editorial?
      • Definitive, highly variable between re-purposing dimensions, but static within the dimension.
      • Possible candidate for re-purposing [Amber flag] .
    • Is the content Opinion?
      • Sales, marketing, highly variable.
      • Poor candidate for re-purposing [Red flag] .
    • Can you isolate and so push content from Opinion -> Editorial -> Factual?
  • 10. Best practices 2
    • Identify / acquire / implement tooling to help manage re-purposing.
      • For all but the simplest scenarios, management is more important than enabling re-purposing.
    • Identifying factors:
      • Ability to 'collapse' instances of re-purposing.
      • Support for 'Test Driven Documentation'.
      • Support for metadata rationalization (managing the dimensions).
      • Links with software source code management
        • In particular, for merging changes.
  • 11. Best practices 3
  • 12. Conclusions
    • Basically, re-use / re-purposing is an important technique.
    • In a short-term, small-scale case, it can and does save time and effort.
      • But don't equate small number of re-purposing dimensions with small number of content files.
    • Increasing the number of re-purposing dimensions will, by definition, introduce complexities to be managed.
      • They increase the time and effort required to perform all documentation tasks.
      • They enable errors.
      • They can be extremely difficult to remove.
    • Be aware of the risks.
      • Have processes / tools in place to help you detect scaling issues.
      • As you hit a pain point, think about the number of re-purposing dimensions. Use this as an early warning flag for 'next time'.
    • A small change early can avoid a big change later.