Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Customized manuals and documents?

I was recently at the Blue Shield Health Insurance website. I was pleasantly surprised to note that they had a mechanism to generate a customized Blue Shield of California Online Provider Directory! Fill out a bunch of options, a PDF is generated and in a matter of minutes you are notified via email to pick up your custom directory! I thought this was really cool. Wouldn't be great it tech manuals and training modules go down this path at a low level of granularity, say at the chapter or topic level as opposed to a course level or a product manual level. This is perfectly in line with the O'Reilly approach to online publishing.

In the EDA and semiconductor industry imagine if all content from various product vendors was actually made available online (with creative commons licensing of course) for end users to mix, match and modify content for their internal use, there is no question that design methodology would improve significantly. Besides, it would result in a better trained audience and a more knowledgeable user base. There is no question that this would help the industry overall. I am sure this is true for other technology disciplines as well. Most importantly, I think the positives offered by this scenario would far outweigh the negatives, if any.