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DITA: The Darwin Information Typing Architecture

Level 6: Universal Semantic Ecosystem

As DITA provides for scalable semantic bandwidth across content silos and applications, a new kind of semantic ecosystem emerges: semantics that can move with content across old boundaries, wrap unstructured content, and provide validated integration with semi-structured content and managed data sources. DITA becomes the semantic interchange standard for cross-organization, cross-standard, universal content use.


Companies that can share all their information across company boundaries allow new partnerships. For example, a publishing company can incorporate data from real product specifications into articles about the product; governments can combine information from any level of government that's relevant to a particular citizen's problem; applicable legal precedents can be attached to contentious insurance claims...the list is endless because all the information can be used where it is needed.

The following figure indicates how organizations that make the move to DITA become part of a semantic ecosystem that enables information sharing and collaboration where and when it's required, without expensive infrastructure negotiations.

[Click image to view at full size]
Figure 9: Unified Semantic Ecosystem


The greatest investment at this level is in the following efforts:

  • Propagating a pervasive change of mind set across an organization and its partners.
  • Recognizing the value of standardization and collaboration.
  • Establishing common goals and processes, not only for current sharing of infrastructure and content, but as a foundation for the ongoing evolution of people, processes, and technologies that can take advantage of new partnership opportunities as they emerge, bypassing many of the traditional barriers to organizational change and process improvement.


Traditional knowledge management depends on the consolidation of knowledge resources and processes into a few tightly integrated applications and repositories. In other words, the challenge of cross-silo knowledge fl ows is typically managed by creating bigger silos. This approach is problematic even within an enterprise where differing knowledge needs can drive differences in tool choice and content architecture. The approach is almost impossible to scale across multiple enterprises: even if you could convince everyone within an organization to converge on a single repository and tool platform, it would be nearly impossible to convince business partners and collaborators to discard their existing investments for the sake of returns on a minority of content shared across organizations.

A universal semantic ecosystem replaces this notion of monolithic, proprietary silos with an adaptable network of applications that can share content and integrate processes wherever organizational agreements allow or require. Because the connections are based on open content standards rather than on proprietary APIs, different parts of the network can provide radically different kinds of services without breaking agreements on shared content and metadata.

The network as a whole can evolve asynchronously at this sixth level of adoption. Each part meets local needs without compromising global interoperability, and enables a radical change in how change itself happens: from crisis-driven revolutionary upheavals to evolutionary, incremental, adaptive growth in which the best ideas and applications are shared and propagated freely without requiring wholesale replacement of systems and processes.

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