Summary: In her interview, Liz Fraley talks in detail about the history of structured authoring and how her opinions have changed over 17 years in the technical writing industry.
Last month I had the opportunity to talk with Ed Marsh of the Content Content podcast. I’ve known Ed for a couple of years but we’ve never really had time to sit down and talk. It’s funny how much you realize you don’t know when you really get the chance.
We did a series of podcasts several years ago: We interviewed long-term Arbortext users to capture the spirit of the many community members who work to help each other. I interviewed people at all different levels–developers, first time users, experienced integrators, stylesheet professionals, tool masters, and many others. And learned a lot.
Good interviewers expose great information
When Ed Marsh asked me to be on the other side of the interview for his Content Content podcast, I was honored to be included. It’s unusual for me to be the center of attention; it’s just not in my nature. I was the “other bride” at my wedding. I like to learn about what other people are doing. Our customers know that it’s never all about me. Until recently, whenever I presented, the “about me” slide was at the end because I always felt that it was more important to make sure you got what you came for before I advertising myself.
In any event, there’s no getting out of the spotlight when you’re the subject of the interview. Ed’s a good interviewer. He asked all the right questions for a good profile piece. In fact, it was interesting to me as well. We all forget what we know. We take it for granted. We forget that other people don’t know what we know even if we think, “hey, everyone knows this…”
What surprised me most was how much we’ve done here at Single-Sourcing Solutions, how we’re different, and how much knowledge is buried in our own heads.
I’ve been in the technical communications industry nearly two decades at this point. I’ve seen structured authoring develop and change. I’ve seen SGML and XML and DITA rise and DocBook decline. I’ve worked with military documentation and with high-tech software docs with a lot of pre-generated content. I’ve programmed stylesheets and used a lot of tools.
And over those two decades, my perspective and opinions about what to do have changed. A lot.
Where to find the interview
Listen to Episode 19 of the “Content Content Podcast” the podcast about “the people behind the content” for my interview with Ed Marsh.
I hope you enjoy it.
A brief sidebar
I refer to a lot of different topics during the interview. The links are here for your convenience:
- Arbortext Podcast
- Our social media and public projects
- TC Camp
- TC Dojo
- My books
- Benefits of dynamic product information delivery for life sciences (starting point)
- My reading list for 2016 (Join the newsletter if you want the 2017 list when it gets posted)
- My ACM SIGDOC paper: “Beyond Theory: Making Single-Sourcing Actually Work”. 2003. ACM SIGDOC Conference Proceedings. [PDF]
- A list of all presentations S3I staff have given over the years