Re: Writing for on-line

Subject: Re: Writing for on-line
From: Michael Lewis <lewism -at- BRANDLE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 10:48:21 +1100

Agreed almost completely -- I'd just like to change "content" to mean
the ideas, and add "expression" to cover the words used to convey the
content. So you have content, expression, structure, and format.

The distinction between content and expression is important because,
even if you want to convey the same information in two different
contexts (say a reference guide and a tutorial), the expression still
needs to be different, to take account of differing readers' needs.

This, of course, requires great care in the multiple use of slabs of
text. The database option is a powerful one, but like most powerful
solutions it has to be used with discretion.

Mark Baker wrote:

> ... we have to go beyond the distinction we
> have learned to make between content and format and understand that there is
> really a three fold distinction we need to make, the distinction between
> content, structure, and format.
> Content is simply the raw words that express thoughts.
> Structure is the selection, ordering, and behavioral characteristics of
> content for a particular presentation in a particular medium.
> Format is the specific visual display choices made in presenting that
> structured content.
> ...
> Separating structure from content is no great trick, once you learn it.
> Databases have been doing it for years. Your ATM slip, your monthly bank
> statement, and your bank's annual report all draw data from the same
> database. Different structure is applied to each information product as it
> is drawn from the database.
> The bank does not store bank statements, it generates them as needed. We
> should not be storing web pages, help files, and documents. We should be
> creating them as needed. From a database.
> ...
> This is true single sourcing, with true media independence, and it lets us
> exploit the full potential of every media we use, rather than confining
> ourselves to the lowest common denominator of media capabilities.

Michael Lewis
Brandle Pty Limited, Sydney, Australia
PO Box 1249, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012
Suite 8, The Watertower, 1 Marian St, Redfern 2016
Tel +61-2-9310-2224 ... Fax +61-2-9310-5056

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