Taming the Knowledge Tsunami at CMS/DITA North America

Kathy Madison, Comtech Services

We may not of had a Tsunami here in Denver at our CMS/DITA North America conference in April, but the approximately 330 attendees did get to experience all four seasons of weather during their stay. As we went from spring back to winter on the first day, our keynote speaker, Dr. Marc Rosenberg, forecasted that we were facing a tsunami. In his talk, From Content Creation to Content Curation: managing the knowledge tsunami, he said that the sheer amount of content available is increasing exponentially while the shelf-life of knowledge is shrinking dramatically is causing the coming of a “knowledge tsunami”. His presentation allowed us to see how content curation may help us avoid the wave.

Rosenberg talked about content curation as focusing on the accuracy, relevance, usefulness, value and other quality aspects of knowledge assets. Curators are less focused on finding more content than they are on making sure what they have is the right content. The key questions to ask when getting started with a curation journey are: What do your people need to know and when do they need to know it? Do you have the right people curating your content? Do they have the skills? Do you have a QA plan for your content? What are you doing with bad content—assuming you know where it is? and How can you get your organization, team or clients to value content curation?

Most of what Rosenberg discussed regarding content curation overlapped well with what our 106 speakers in 86 sessions talked about in their content management strategies and DITA best practices presentations. Sessions were grouped into a variety of themes to give attendees a chance to move in and out of a theme or spend a concentrated amount of time in one subject area. These mini-themes were: Structured authoring, content strategies, case studies, cross-department collaboration, agile, learning and training, reuse, Lightweight DITA and markdown, and artificial intelligence. Several of these sessions encouraged interactive participation, including discussing trends, solving the people puzzle and improving DITA satisfaction. In addition to the many excellent sessions, 19 exhibitors shared roadmaps and new features in the Technology Test Kitchen, providing demos and hands-on experiences for people interested in learning more about their tools.

Attendees had many opportunities to meet fellow information developers and managers, starting with Sunday’s newcomer session where 50 or so of the 127 first time attendees gathered, followed by a welcome reception on Sunday evening, birds-of-a-feather lunch on Monday and the first ever Casino Night on Monday evening.  Prior to and during casino night, attendees were encouraged to explore and visit with as many exhibitors as possible, not only to learn more about the vendor’s capabilities and offerings, but to earn “casino dollars” in order to try their luck at the gambling tables or to purchase raffle tickets for some fantastic prizes.  From the excitement level in the hall, it seemed like everyone went away a winner!

Regardless of what the weather forecast will bring us next spring, we hope you can join us for CMS/DITA North America slated for Raleigh, North Carolina.