Re: Queries on Single Sourcing
That is, in the absence of well-conceived and implemented meta-data, about all that differentiates your information "chunks" from one enormous blob of text is that there are separators between chunks. There's nothing to differentiate one chunk from another, other than the content itself. That means you can have a writer search "by hand" through tens of thousands of undifferentiated chunks, in order to glean the ones that belong in the next book. The writer also gets to decide the order in which that subset of chunks will be assembled. We can assume that increasing experience would allow the writer to become more proficient at locating relevant stuff to extract from the amorphous cloud of chunks.
If that writer leaves or gets hit by a bus, the learning curve starts over with somebody else.
Ack! I am now ready to go back to being a Luddite.
This reminds me of a company I worked for where each R&D group had its own techwriter(s). One group had rather a lot of writers compared to the other groups and it was lead by a guy who described himself in hushed tones as "not a technical writer, but a Documentation Architect."
This guy had implemented in his group a system such as you describe. The idea was that you could re-use any chunk of text, assuming that you could find it in the huge repository. In fact, writers were required to look for it in the repository, whether it was there or not. The fact that, when and if it was found, it had to be tweaked, and the fact that I have rarely re-used an untweaked chunk of text in my entire career, and the fact that if he got hit by a bus no one would be able to figure the system out seemed to be lost on him. He had set up this system, and by g-d, people were going to use it. Aside from the people in his group who hadn't fled to other departments, and aside from all the powerful people in the company who are always impressed by the word "automation," all the other writers in R&D dreaded the possibility that the powers that be would implement his system throughout the company.
Call me wishy-washy, but I'm a Luddite again. I can see how single-sourcing would work for the help, training, and manuals, etc. in a single project, but to try to make it work over more than one project sounds like a complete waste of effort and a form of bureaucratic abuse.
Winnipeg, MB R3G 2J3
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