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Published on January 20th, 2009 | by Rahel Bailie

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XML and the Obama administration

This morning, I came to my co-work office, and as I was waiting for my morning latte to be served up by the most efficient and personable Dane, the inauguration played on the super-large Mac flat screen in the background. I got goosebumps (and only a bit of that was because of the draft near the desk I’d chosen for the day) as I contemplated the changes afoot. Canadians have a saying that goes something like: When the White House sneezes, the Prime Minister catches a cold. Our economies are so intertwined that everything affecting the south-of-the-49th affects us north-of-the-49th parallel, as well.

So when The Vancouver Sun‘s Gillian Shaw pointed her Twitter followers to the first blog post of the Obama administration, I went there to get an idea of the tone of what I heard on CBC referred to as the New “New Deal”.

About half-way down, I noticed the following sentence: “The President’s executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and that’s just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government.” Fabulous, of course. Then I started to wonder about how this would happen, the speed of which this information would get published, whether it would be single-sourced from the original source, which other publishing channels the material would be pushed to, and what flavour of XML would be used to accomplish all of this. A few years ago, the Irish government got their staff working in XML, without them even knowing it, in order to get them publishing content faster, more efficiently, and without the potential of degraded accuracy inherent with “cut ‘n paste” methods of multi-channel publishing.

With the new administration appointing its first CTO, no doubt there will be great changes coming about. No doubt content strategies are way down on the list – infrastructure and data security is bound to be way higher priorities – but at some point, this will need to be addressed. I can only hope that whoever gets that gig will be allowed to do the conference circuit to speak about how they made it happen – I mean, wouldn’t you be awfully curious, too?


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About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,



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