Shaping Content with the Deep Magic of Taxonomy (webinar recording)

Taxonomy takes effort, but when it’s done properly, the benefits more than justify the pain. More than just labeling information and parceling it into neat boxes, it’s about understanding the underlying concepts that your content describes. The actual tags you use are secondary to the ideas behind them — each piece of content’s subject matter, purpose, intended audience, and role in the larger content set. Using a taxonomy makes you look again at what you are writing. You abandon information for its own sake, and instead shape content to fit your customers. Not only does their experience with search and navigation improve; what they find speaks directly to their needs.

Mass-Managing Adaptive Graphics in an Automated Publishing Environment

Good visual communication is essential, yet graphics are often an afterthought in structured content implementations. We need a new approach to make them work well over an increasing range of screen sizes, devices, and contexts.

Serve Content in Tasty Chunks

Well-thought-out content sets are like a good stew — each chunk has a distinct role. Carrots bring sweetness; potatoes, substance. In the same way, carefully designed information is served in purposeful pages whose structure reflects their intent.

Visualizing Complex Content Models with Spatial Schemas

An accessible way for authors, information architects, and schema developers alike to understand or refine a content model.

What Structured Content Can Do for You (and what it can’t)

Because structured content contains extra information, it takes extra planning and work to produce. The tools used to manage it can be costly, but the human changes needed to work with it can be even more so. It is essential that before starting a structured content implementation, stakeholders in the organization understand the benefits that they can achieve through it, as well as those they can’t.

DITA: Don't Migrate; Metamorphose

In the world of content technologies, we often borrow concepts from the world of biology. Content has a life cycle. We may attempt to classify it using a taxonomy. And when content is permanently moved from one system to another, we talk of migration. These borrowed concepts are powerful models ...

Does Content Management Start at Home?

Does your home organization reflect your practices at work? A model for reducing document clutter shows parallels with enterprise content management.

Concurrent XML Authoring with (Fairly) Easy Merges

Distributed version control could make collaborative XML authoring faster, more reliable, and clearer. But the piece that’s missing from regular DVCS setups is an XML-aware merge tool. Project: Merge fills this gap. Here’s how I got it working with Mercurial in SourceTree on a Mac.

Does Your Writing Tool Leave Space to Build a Story?

Every piece of business writing should tell a story. But constructing an argument or plot takes focus. Helpful tools remove the distraction of presentation and allow direct manipulation of the logical structure.

Google+ blog comments — the good, the not so good, the surprising

[Edit: I’m not using Google+ comments any more at the moment, because I’ve moved this blog over to a static HTML generator and because it’s much easier and more reliable to use Disqus for that. However, this post may still be of interest to people considering using ...

The Author is Alive: A Reading of Marcia Riefer Johnston's "Word Up!"

As would anyone interested in language or looking to improve their writing, I really enjoyed “Word Up!” It’s a book full of tips and tricks and amusing tidbits. There’s sound advice on how to get paragraphs flowing from sentence to sentence. There’s wisdom on writing for mobile ...

How Just a Little Data Analysis Can Improve Your Content

Slides from a webinar I presented on February 5th, 2013, organized by Comtech Services.

Referencing things in the real world — is structured content missing a trick?

(Originally posted on Google+ here)

  1. One of the most promising and least used aspects of structured content is the ability to associate inline elements unambiguously with the real-world people, companies, and things they describe (think Facebook mentions but much more powerful and outside that walled garden).
  2. When using inline mentions ...

Do design philosophies belong in Quick Start guides?

Originally posted on Google+. See comments there.

In “Documenting the Undocumentable“, James Hague argues that the most important part of a software tool to document is the design philosophy behind it. For example:

Why is it so much work to change the fonts in a paper written in Word? Because ...

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