OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help

dita-lightweight-dita message

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [List Home]

Subject: Stan Doherty - Lightweight DITA Self-Introduction

Hi all --

I have been working in technical communications for 25 years or so, starting back with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Writers. 

I was dragged into structured markup in 1999 when I joined Sun Microsystems. They had an SGML DocBook variation that they called SolBook and we authored all our system documentation manuals in it using FrameMaker+SGML. By 2002 we'd moved into context-sensitive Help and needed some more nimble way to author help topics, so we created an XML subset of the SolBook DTD, modified the HTML processors, and then delivered several generations of highly-customized CSH. It was modular and structured, but not very flexible.

In 2004 I was asked to join OASIS as one of Sun's reps and to get involved with a new committee forming in OASIS call "DITA". The expectation was that I would be able to burn through all its outrageous claims and expose it as a fraudulent usurper to the DocBook throne. Winter is coming. Once I had debunked DITA, I would be able to sound the "All Clear!" and we could all go back to being happy villagers in the Kingdom of Linear Writing. I joined the DITA TC at its first or second meeting (best I recall), struggled to understand what was going on with DITA, and then finally "got it" one day. Been on the Kool-Aid ever since. 

I am interested in Lightweight DITA as a form of penance for all the years that I successfully constructed and defended technical writing silos. Successful technical writing managers built empires within larger engineering organizations by developing standards, tools, and processes that were hyper-optimized for us ... and only us. I gave collaborative authoring and information sharing across silos lip service and a wide berth. A long as no senior engineering vice president measured the collective costs of developing the same content six times across six concrete-hardened silos, I was a hero. To the extent that DITA writers required experience with XML, modular writing, and minimalism, they were a selective lot ... perfect recruits toward building an XML-holier-than-thou silo.  

Times have changed. Mea culpa. I feel embarrassed now by the obstacles that I created to sharing information. If creating silos were a big part of playing the game, then I played the game well and played to win. Indirectly, my early years in DITA exacerbated the problem. DITA helped to reduce barriers between tech writing organizations WITHIN a company, but increased barriers BETWEEN tech writers and other content developers in the company. Call me crazy, but I WANT IT ALL now. I want to be able to develop information in an environment optimized for professional tech writers AND to partner effectively across a company in the development of shared content. That's a challenge that I believe that I am up for technically and professionally. 

I just started a new job this past week as an information architect at Akamai Technologies (http://www.akamai.com/), the world's largest content delivery network provider. I'll be working mainly with technical writing groups in Akamai as they migrate to structured authoring, content management, and DITA. Success in those areas will provide opportunities to build bridges between content development silos. I believe that having a robust story around Lightweight DITA and its related, interoperable solutions would be required to make a convincing case for collaborative authoring across a large company. Bring it on. 

I am thrilled that this effort is moving forward. I look forward to helping in whatever ways that I can.

Stan Doherty

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [List Home]