This is also true in writing documents. In high school and college, students are taught that they need to create an outline of their paper, then a draft and then the final copy of the paper. The paper meets the instructor's requirement like:
- Write an essay about the Civil War
- Write a technical paper on how to build a Lawn mover
- Write a paper why Roe Vs. Wade is beneficial for the United States.
In the information age, every major organization is trying to mine data to give themselves an edge over their competitors. Companies like Google, Autonomy, Fast, Vivisimo, etc, etc offer products which offer search capabilities for unstructured data which is linearly, brittle and tightly coupled (just like this blog entry).
Yesterday I came across an XML standard which identifies the issue of linear writting and describes how to write reusable content. It is quite fascinating. The XML standard is called Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). It uses ideas of inheritance and specialization. I don't know if DITA is the answer but it asks the right questions and it identifies the issues. Hope you enjoy the white paper (be warned that it is quite technical). If the white paper is too complicated then check out this power point presentation. Enjoy!