RE: [RMX:NL] Re: [RMX:NL] Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series

Subject: RE: [RMX:NL] Re: [RMX:NL] Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series
From: <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com>
To: "'Michael Hopwood'" <Michael -dot- Hopwood -at- Gleif -dot- org>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 19 May 2016 11:03:18 -0400

Thanks for the comment, Michael.

The question about literature is an interesting one. There is quite a body of literature on markup theory as it relates to the representation of texts. That is, as it relates to taking an existing text and electronically representing the facets of that text for purposes of study, for instance. TEI is at the center of this, and there are interesting debates about whether texts can be validly represented as a hierarchy of objects. (Answer seems to be no.)

But I am concerned with a different problem: structured writing as a method for constraining the authoring process. This does involve the application of metadata to texts, and such metadata might conceivably pass through to TEI or some less ambitious annotation method like HTML microformats. But it is not created for that purpose, but with the purpose of constraining authoring to promote quality, consistency, and efficiency.

If microformat markup was part of the desired outputs, it would obviously be concerned with making sure it got created correctly. But it is not concerned with the theory of what the microformat markup should be, just the process of creating it.

A system of constraints does not need to have the same degree of representational validity as something like TEI. It just needs to demonstrably improve quality, consistency, or efficiency for a reasonable cost. It does not have to deal with the whole representational problem, just those parts where it can make a difference. This is reflected in the very many more or less ad hoc systems that have been created and deployed over the years, including both commercial tools and in house projects. Each of these has its own vocabulary, often using the same words to describe different structures or algorithms from the next one, which makes comparisons difficult. I have long felt that we lack a means to describe, compare, and contrast what each of these was doing, and to talk about what we would like an ideal system to do.

That is really the gap that this book is trying to fill, and if there is another work out that that attempts to meet this need, I have not heard of it. The searches I do turn up articles on text representation rather than constrained authoring. So if anyone has any references to suggest, I would be deeply grateful for them.

There is, of course, lots of practical advice on using current system like DITA or DocBook. But they all have their own vocabularies, as noted above. I am looking for something more general and higher level. Something that describes the class rather than the instance.

The book very much arises out of a feeling that there is a gap to be filled here. But I would be very happy to discover if the gap is not so wide or so empty as it seems to me to be.

Thanks,

Mark

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Hopwood [mailto:Michael -dot- Hopwood -at- Gleif -dot- org]
Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2016 10:26 AM
To: mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com; 'Slager Timothy J'; 'Julie Stickler'; 'TECHWR-L Writing'
Subject: Re: [RMX:NL] Re: [RMX:NL] Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series

As a very technical textbook for the audiences you mentioned this seems highly appropriate. Iâd be interested to see if the book will come with some references to the literature (because I wonder if there is any literature at all that does what this book aims for).



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Follow-Ups:

References:
Request for comments on my Structured Writing series: From: mbaker
Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series: From: Robert Lauriston
Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series: From: Julie Stickler
RE: [RMX:NL] Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series: From: Slager Timothy J
Re: [RMX:NL] Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series: From: Julie Stickler
RE: [RMX:NL] Re: [RMX:NL] Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series: From: Slager Timothy J
RE: [RMX:NL] Re: [RMX:NL] Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series: From: mbaker
Re: [RMX:NL] Re: [RMX:NL] Re: Request for comments on my Structured Writing series: From: Michael Hopwood

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