The Reason and the Passion of XML

While browsing through the XML and DITA-related discussions on LinkedIn, I ran across a good post by Joe Gollner about the “why” argument about doing things in XML (as opposed to some other, proprietary format). He also dug up what I think is an exceptional presentation he did called “The Reason and the Passion of XML”, which he revived and posted to Slideshare. The “Reason” portion has to do with the types of business arguments that make the case for why deploying XML-based systems makes sense from a costing or efficiency argument. That is good stuff and if you are looking to justify a CMS purchase there’s some good material here. The “Passion” portion is more interesting, and has to do with those who see how XML can help them improve how they work, and manage to usher the new process through the inevitable “dark days” when productivity slumps as the new XML tools are adopted, and the drive of the people who help make it succeed.

Here’s his very readable blog (now added to my Blogroll), and here’s the presentation in question:

Reason and Passion of XML (J Gollner)

View more presentations from Joe Gollner

I’ve met him at previous conferences and he is a very knowledgable and articulate speaker, with more years of experience with XML technologies than most of us. To him I am sure that DITA is the new kid on the block, (but still welcomed to the neighbourhood).


"DITAWriter" is Keith Schengili-Roberts. I work for IXIASOFT as a DITA Specialist/Information Architect. And I like to write about DITA and the technical writing community. To get ahold of me you can email me at:

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2 thoughts on “The Reason and the Passion of XML

  1. Hi Keith

    Thanks for picking up on this thread and sorry it has been over a month before I noticed your post. In truth I was on vacation and unconventionally offline (having retreated to a family log cabin on Denman Island in BC).

    I have been returning to this question, as you have, more and more frequently. Others like Alan Porter (with his book The Content Pool) and Sarah O’Keefe (with her forthcoming book Content Strategy 101) have been approaching it as well. Of course several others in our field including JoAnn Hackos, Bob Boiko and Ann Rockley have been exploring justification tactics for a long time. And you too have been standing forth on this topic with some delightful presentations over the last couple of years.

    I am pretty much convinced however that we still don’t have the right formula for engaging business executives in a discussion about content processes and technology. The presentation that you reference, The Reason and Passion of XML, was an attempt to broaden the discussion in order to bring content in from the managerial hinterland. The case studies used in this presentation, and that have been expanded upon in more recent presentations (such as my keynote “The Content Revolution” at last year’s Lavacon in Austin – of which there is a remarkably good quality recording linked to from my blog) have impressed upon me the importance of hitting a range of management buttons.

    As an industry, we do need to strengthen our hand when playing at the high stakes management table. Part of this is about showing up with a strong quantitative story. But those who believe that this is the only card you need are simply people who have not played at these tables before.

    This is a topic we would all do well to collaborate on and there has been an increasing recognition that we can do just that.

  2. Whoops. I am not a month late, am a year and a month late. Shows you just how inattentive I can be or how distracting some time on Denman Island can be. But some discussions are essentially timeless and this would be one of them. If anything the urgency just builds as we move along.

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