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Subject: Goodbye and thanks for all the fish

Hello all,

I can no longer sustain my OASIS membership and will therefore not renew it. As the renewal date is coming up soon, I thought I would notify you about the reasons for leaving the DITA TC and the DITA Adoption TC.

My remarks below may seem a little harsh to some - please donât take them personally. I do think it is sometimes useful when a relative outsider (well, relative - I often feel like I am from another planet) shares their viewpoint. Do with it what you like (and yes, that includes choosing not to read them).

So here we go:

Although I am - and will remain - a huge fan of DITA, I cannot see a role for myself anymore in the dinosaur that is called OASIS. From the start I have tried to push for progress and renewal of processes that I believe to be seriously stuck in extreme conservatism. I hear that other standards bodies are at least as conservative, but that in itself is no reason to oppose change. We would all still be stuck in Platoâs cave if nobody had ever argued against good old habits cast ini stone.

With the prospect of DITA 2.0, I was hoping there could be some room for more or less drastic redesigns. But it turns out the focus is on minimising change, where I would hope it would be on maximising the quality of the standard. Not just removing the most obvious flaws in the original design but making slightly more drastic changes so that we can progress on a much better basis. Being a philosopher and having had my first programming experience in a logically defined language called OCCAM (after Ockhamâs razor), I focus on strong and clear concepts and try to remove any exceptions from the core.

That attitude, obviously, is not going to work in the OASIS committees.

Which means I should decide to step out and go my own way with DITA. Fortunately, there is nothing in the DITA standard that prevents me from making my own special(iced) usage of DITA. And that is what I love about 

As for the DITA Adoption TC:

For this group, I think it has not at all helped to be named a Technical Committee, as from the start the focus was way too much on technical stuff (white papers on DITA features). I have repeatedly tried to bring some marketing sense to the table but so far not much has happened on that front. 

IMHO we should 
1) not care about absolute correctness of communications, (even incorrect news about you is news about you and is a marketing asset)
2) target an audience that will never use DITA themselves: the business managers who are simply interested in cutting costs and making profits. 

If we would get 1 article about a - financially - successful DITA implementation (without any technical details whatsoever) into the Financial Times, it would have more impact on DITA adoption than writing 20 white papers or having 20 listening sessions (which should have been organised by the DITA TC and not the DITA Adoption TC if you ask me).

I would applaud an initiative that would take the whole DITA Adoption group out of OASIS altogether, and I might actually join such a group. See it as a fanclub for OASIS (not the band) and advertise it as such. As it is, nobody in their right mind is gong to join OASIS just to be part of the adoption group, so we will be confined to the geeks who are already convinced about DITA and who cannot think outside of the DITA box to figure out what would really make a difference to DITA newbies.

DITA is the most eXtensible and the most fleXible of all the XML standards. Unfortunately, the DITA TCs, and their parent organisation, are not.

I am sure I will meet many of you at future DITA or non-DITA conferences and we can continue discussions there.

Good luck with it.


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