Re: PLink availability/feature requests

From: Lee Iverson (
Date: Mon Apr 30 2001 - 11:57:45 PDT

In message <>, Eric Armstrong writes:
>Murray Altheim wrote:
>> ...One of our engineers did a fairly comprehensive study
>> of document "components" with an eye on reducing translation costs.
>> Sun localizes its document pool across quite a number of languages,
>> which is very expensive, so the idea was to try to save some money
>> hiring translators.
>> What he found was that the cutting and pasting of such components
>> was frought with difficulty, as they were originally written by a
>> [supposedly] intelligent author for a particular purpose in a
>> particular context. That these components (let's really call them
>> "document fragments") are somehow modular and reusable seems rather
>> suspect to me...
>This may come as a bit of a surprise, but I totally agree with
>you. When a document is written, transitions play such a key role
>that the idea of "modular reuse" is effectively moot.
>Another way of saying that is: Given the tools we have at our
>disposal, the work products we have created are ill-suited for
>modular reuse.

I agree totally with Eric's analysis. The problem with document reuse
is often that certain classes of documents are not intended for reuse
or really even reference. They are a single author's view of a
coherent argument leading to conclusions. Now, of course, as Eric
stated, there are many kinds of documents which are already in a much
more reusable form (and it should be our goal to encourage or create
new forms where necessary). But more important is the observation
that much of our style of communication depends on expectations of
reuse or lack thereof. We write reference documents very differently
from position papers and proposals. In many cases, the differences
arise from our understanding of reusability and audience. I fact, I
strongly believe modularity and reuse are an opportunity in document
handling and knowledge management that is currently sorely lacking,
and a huge waste of productive effort.

Lee Iverson SRI International 333 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park CA 94025 (650) 859-3307

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Tue Aug 21 2001 - 17:58:06 PDT