Future skills

Subject: Future skills
From: "Mark Baker" <mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 10:59:03 -0500

Several people have asked me privately to expand on the list of future
skills that gave in my post on the New Hires thread. I though I would
inflict my reply on everyone.

I listed the following as skills of the future:

Text programming (my pick for hot career field of the future)
Modular content development
Rule based dynamic presentation design
Database design/administration
Editing (which means editing for adherence to the rules of the system)

I think the last two are self evident. Here's what I mean by the first

Text programming:

Simply the manipulation of text with computer programs. We manipulate text
in a program in order to produce different outputs from a single body of
information. The programs that run Amazon or Wall Street Journal Interactive
Edition are examples of text manipulation programs. So are systems like the
one we use here at OmniMark to produce different presentations in different
media from a database of SGML-tagged components.

There are two main aspects to text programming: dealing with the
technologies that give structure to text -- databases and markup. And
finding an manipulating patterns in unstructured text.

Modular content development:

This is the other side of the coin, creating content as structured text that
can easily be manipulated by a text processing program. This does not, by
and large, mean adding structured markup to documents. It means envisioning
information sets as collections of components with defined types and defined
interfaces that can be reliably combined to produce many different forms of
output. In other words, we have to learn to write information components
instead of documents.

Rule based dynamic presentation design:

Actually, rule based static presentation design will be important too. What
they both mean is the ability to state an information product design as a
set of rules for selecting, combining and manipulating information
components to create information products. Once those rules are stated, you
can write a text manipulation program to implement them.

The difference between static and dynamic is that static deals with static
objets like books or PDF files, while dynamic deal with interactive web
sites where the user is supplying data that a program must act on in
selecting and combining information components to create a presentation on
the fly.

Mark Baker
Senior Technical Communicator
OmniMark Technologies Corporation
1400 Blair Place
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada, K1J 9B8
Phone: 613-745-4242
Fax: 613-745-5560
Email mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com
Web: http://www.omnimark.com

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