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DITA Collaboration for Content


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Companies often have a problem in capturing the experience of their technical or field personnel if the that person falls back to using email or a favorite word processor on a whim to record their knowledge.

Particularly in the support arena, special tools have been devised to try to capture and correlate the knowledge that is often created in the course of handling support calls. Lately, and across wider domains of knowledge or disciplines, wikis have been used with varying success for capturing at least some of that otherwise misplaced knowledge. But even on a centralized resource like a wiki, there is still the problem of how to retrieve and reuse that content as a more strategically-tagged corporate asset.

The DITA Content Collaboration project seeks to make DITA authoring commonplace for scenarios in which content creators can benefit from the structuring disciplines of this tool.

This presentation demonstrates a structured approach to collaborative writing that benefits the preservation and curation of valued, yet too-often marginalized content of knowledge workers in an organization or company.

Published in: Business, Technology
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DITA Collaboration for Content

  1. 1. DITA Collaboration for Content<br />By Don R. Day<br /><br />1/17/2011<br />1<br />
  2. 2. DITA Collaboration for Content<br />Abstract: Subject matter experts in your company create many types of valuable content; the problem is in converting that content into reuseable business assets. You can turn Lost Content into Intelligent Content using structured collaboration.<br />1/17/2011<br />2<br />
  3. 3. The Knowledge Conundrum:<br />"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"--T.S. Eliot<br />End of 2010: <br />205.8 million registered domains<br />50 to 120 billion indexed pages *<br />*<br />1/17/2011<br />3<br />
  4. 4. What is Knowledge Management?<br />"Information economy" goals:<br />Gathering and processing data competitively<br />Applying information for economic advantage<br />"Knowledge economy" goals:<br />Tacit knowledge (intuitive, mentored) vs Explicit knowledge (documented)<br />Connecting people to enhance knowledge pooling<br />Treating knowledge as a business product (such as consulting)<br />1/17/2011<br />4<br />
  5. 5. Types of knowledge assets:<br />Customer knowledge<br />CRM systems--often "who knows who" networking<br />Competitor knowledge<br />Market strategy<br />Product knowledge<br />How your product works, how well your product is described to customers (fail searches or failed "drag" opportunities)<br />Process knowledge<br />Practices, trends, experience<br />Financial knowledge<br />Operations and resource management<br />People knowledge<br />Identifying skills and expertise, making connections<br />1/17/2011<br />5<br />
  6. 6. Knowledge is easily lost:<br />Turnover<br />Hard-to-use tools impede the writing process<br />Obscure or non-standard formats<br />Not up-to-date<br />Not well described or indexed<br />Not team reviewed and approved<br />Context may be missing for understanding the data<br />1/17/2011<br />6<br />
  7. 7. Pain Points informal survey on LinkedIn:<br />Inadequate time for writers to curate their own work, ensuring good use of semantics, grammar, markup usage, etc..<br />Quantity is rewarded more than quality.<br />Plethora of tools and formats with no organizing methodology<br />Inadequate CMS integration around semantics that ARE available in disparate data sets<br />Inadequate awareness of how to use semantics effectively (ie, keyword tagging and appropriate markup selection.<br />Inadequate social support (coaching dynamics, assistive interfaces, training and docs)<br />1/17/2011<br />7<br />
  8. 8. Managing content in a collaboration space<br />What is a typical content lifecycle?<br />Preparation (analysis and design)<br />Initial document creation<br />Feedback and modification (test)<br />Approval (publication/build implementation)<br />Subsequent updates and modification (support, enhancements)<br />1/17/2011<br />8<br />
  9. 9. Managing content, cont.<br />Content curation is a new term. What is it?<br />Selection & Organization<br />What is significant?<br />What needs explanation and synthesis?<br />What needs corrected?<br />Authentication (review and agreement on quality)<br />Indexing/tagging and enriching semantically<br />1/17/2011<br />9<br />
  10. 10. Managing content, cont.<br />Options for turning original/curated content into reusable resources:<br />Rule-driven, heuristic tools (for example, using LegalZoom to create online wills, other DIY advice)<br />Specialist-vetted FAQs and How-To topics<br />Commercial eBooks (which typically lack synthesis or correction in their curation)<br />Misconception: We'll let engineers write the end user docs for us on a wiki!<br />1/17/2011<br />10<br />
  11. 11. The collage vs the painting<br />mashupsvsaggregation with interpretation<br />1/17/2011<br />11<br />
  12. 12. NASA example of curation<br />Providing context and interpretation for SME-contributed content:<br />1/17/2011<br />12<br />
  13. 13. Managing content, cont.<br />Proposed solution: Intercept as many streams as possible as DITA<br />Content is directly useable in DITA-aware processing.<br />Content can be enhanced (made "intelligent") by adding:<br />Linking relationships<br />Metadata<br />Semantic markup (coaching, review/edit, etc.)<br />1/17/2011<br />13<br />
  14. 14. How does DITA fit into KM strategies?<br />Ann Rockley defines Intelligent Content as:<br />“content which is structurally rich and semantically aware, therefore<br />automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.”<br />Collaboration is a product of writers, consumers, and mediators working together on a body of knowledge<br />Collaborative discourse tends to provide context for knowledge. Topics are Good!<br />XML technologies help by:<br />Enabling content interchange with organizations across the company<br />Enabling content interchange with partners, contractors, OEMs<br />Enabling dialog between companies and customers<br />Facilitating process definition and execution within the company<br />DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) is an XML application designed to provide many of these benefits.<br />1/17/2011<br />14<br />
  15. 15. What can you capture?<br />Ideas (one to many, blogs)<br />How-to contributions (eliciting deep product knowledge and best practices)<br />Examples (programs, recipes, crafts, etc.)<br />"Tags" for retrieval--user perception of what things or ideas are called (ontology, folksonomy)<br />Comments -- conventional "user generated content"<br />Annotations directly to content locations (effectively becoming footnotes rather than comments)<br />Literate programming: "The sea is in the bottle; the bottle is in the sea."<br />Conversations (IM sessions, email quotes)<br />Goodies to share (links, colleague profiles, comments from books and classes)<br />Field observations (debriefings, solutions)<br />Research (abstracts and links to published materials)<br />Announcements (presentations, patents, awards)<br />1/17/2011<br />15<br />
  16. 16. Getting content into DITA<br />Integrate DITA conversion or direct DITA authoring into collaborative interfaces:<br />Wikis & blogs<br />Forums<br />Twitter feeds<br />"Data mining" for potentially useful content in files, call center logs, chat logs, etc..<br />Use familiar desktop tools that are DITA-aware (Quark Xpress Author, Author-It, FrameMaker)<br />1/17/2011<br />16<br />
  17. 17. Fostering contribution<br />Empower and encourage atmosphere of sharing<br />Reward/acknowledge mastery of markup goals<br />Provide wizards and other assistance for inserting metadata and markup<br />Devise "shell" templates to guide general flow of well-structured topics<br />Look to ease policies that impede spontaneous participation<br />Create and support communities around knowledge domains<br />Internal workgroups or meetups<br />Local DITA user groups<br />Worldwide DITA resources and forums<br />Training and reading resources<br />Make it easier to reuse knowledge (dita maps and conrefs)<br />1/17/2011<br />17<br />
  18. 18. Content Makeover using DITA collaboration<br />Traditional setup:<br />Wiki for collaboration, but cut/paste into Word for publications<br />No capture strategy for Twitter or other social media conversations<br />No coordinated tracking of user comments<br />1/17/2011<br />18<br />
  19. 19. Makeover, cont.<br />Workflows of the prototype expeDITA collaboration tool<br />Configurable modes:<br />Wiki: multiple authors<br />Project documents (home page, news, schedules, specs)<br />End user documents (FAQs, How Tos)<br />Blog: single author contributors<br />Forum: conversational mode<br />Published Web site mode<br />Proposed: chat and Twitter aggregation into curated topics<br />1/17/2011<br />19<br />
  20. 20. Makeover, cont.<br />Configurable layouts:<br />Branding for the company look and feel<br />Three-column blog<br />Two-column wiki<br />One-column reading/print mode<br />1/17/2011<br />20<br />
  21. 21. Demo<br />1/17/2011<br />21<br />
  22. 22. Challenges<br />Collaboration should stimulate new ideas, solve problems, enhance teamwork, and distribute expertise. *<br />Get the right messages in place: Social Media and collaborative tools are elective, not mandated. Users must be drawn by value.<br />Collaboration tools do not replace e-mail or bulletin boards--use the appropriate tool!<br />Be wary about how data modeling can limit you:<br />top-down analysis tends to formalize Business Today<br />bottom-up allows in-the-trenches input on trends in motion<br />*Why Some People ‘Dread’ Collaboration, InfoWeek-Sept 6 2010 p40<br />1/17/2011<br />22<br />
  23. 23. Resources<br />DITA Focus Area,<br />Semantic Computing at AIST, by HasidaKoti,<br />The Evolution of Web-Based Collaboration at NASA & The Wiki-way Forward,<br />Collage image provided by, a wiki building the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit these articles and find author credits at the original wikiHow articles on and Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.<br />expeDITAContent Collaboration project,<br />1/17/2011<br />23<br />
  24. 24. Questions and Discussion<br />1/17/2011<br />24<br />
  25. 25. Backup: Buy-in tips from NASA<br />1/17/2011<br />25<br />