AODC – authoring memory

This week I’m attending the Australasian Online Documentation and Content Conference (AODC) on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. Today’s first session was a short talk by Matt Armstrong about something called “authoring memory”. Have you ever heard of that? I hadn’t.

Matt is the Asia Pacific sales director at Author-it. He started his session by giving us some background about content re-use, why we’d want to do it, the demands we might make of a content mangement solution to support content re-use and the high-level steps we would take to identify content for re-use.

One of the questions he asked us was: Of the people who are already re-using content, how many have a way of quantifying the gains you’ve made by employing content re-use? Surprisingly, the answer was none.

Translation memory and authoring memory

Towards the end of his talk, Matt gave us a tantalising glimpse into what “authoring memory” is. To find out more, we can take a look at the Author-it product, which supports “authoring memory”.

Matt said that translators use “translation memory”. This is a toolset which allows translators to pool their translations into a central database, and then draw from the database when they have similar content for translation. You can match your content with translations made by others all over the world.

Now compare the concept of “authoring memory”. The idea is that a team can build their content in a database. When you are writing a new piece of content, the tool will suggest something that someone else has already written. The content can be shared across the world. You can decide on the spot whether to re-use the bit of content that the tool is offering you.

Matt mentioned these requirements for such a tool — it must:

  • Offer you the suggested text and allow you to decide whether to re-use it or not.
  • Be fast and immediate.
  • Be integrated into your authoring tool.
  • Support security and permissions.
  • Provide tools for measuring how much content has been re-used and how much time this has saved.

My conclusions

This was an interesting session for me, because it introduced a new concept. Thank you Matt 🙂 One thing I might suggest, is that the session could have focused sooner on that concept itself, i.e. “authoring memory”. The session had a rather long introduction (from my viewpoint) which covered things that had already been dealt with at earlier sessions in the conference. A demo would have been very useful too.

Here’s a link I’ve found to the relevant page on the Author-it web site. At the conference, of course, we can talk to Matt and see a demonstration of this functionality outside the lecture room.

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 16 May 2008, in AODC, technical writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Yes, I was one of the first to describe the term “authoring memory” 10 years ago. See a description of it in my conference paper at:
    http://www.transref.org/u-articles/allen2.asp

    Jeff Allen

  2. Hallo Jeff
    Thank you for that link! That’s an extremely interesting article, especially with the description of the links between authoring memory, translation memory and controlled language. Well worth a read.
    Cheers
    Sarah

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