Recently Read

Ahhh, the end of another week (well it will be in a few hours, just a few last diagrams to be rebranded…), which means it’s time for a quick roundup.

Pilcrow & Capitulum
A nice little post for the font freaks (guilty!) discussing the evolution of the that little symbol that is often used to mark the end of a paragraph.

It’s tempting to recognize the symbol as a “P for paragraph,” though the resemblance is incidental: in its original form, the mark was an open C crossed by a vertical line or two, a scribal abbreviation for capitulum, the Latin word for “chapter.”

Open Applications – A Model for Technical Documentation?
Ferdinand Soethe takes a look at the Open Source movement and finds several parallels and arguments for basing a technical documentation effort on the same principles. It’s not all a perfect match but this confirms some of my own suspicions.

Talking with Technical Editors on the topic of Single Source Publishing (SSP), one sometimes gets the impression of talking about Utopia. (Nearly) everyone knows it, nearly everyone could well use it in their work, but hardly anyone actually uses it.

The necessity to prepare contents for different target media can neither be really met with classic text processing or DTP systems nor with Web design tools. This was why the XML language family born in the 90’s found huge acceptance in the area of Technical Documentation.

Rethinking Community Documentation
An old but still valid and fascinating article exploring the changing landscape of technical information:

The way we educate ourselves to use and program computers is shifting along many of the same historic lines as journalism, scientific publication, and other information-rich fields.

As an industry much has changed in the two years since Andy wrote this article but it’s still worth a read, particularly if you are looking at launching your own technical community initiative.

Three Ways to Get Developers to Keep You up to Speed

A simple reminder of how to get things done, the kind of advice that sometimes seems very obvious until you read it and realise you aren’t doing it! I’m tempted to print out the three “rules” and pin them to the wall.

Get support from those whose voices everyone takes seriously. Chances are, you were hired because someone thought documentation is important. You may find yourself in an environment where you have to prove your importance, and many times that is a battle fought for a matter of inches rather than miles.

As ever, I’m keen to hear about any other technical writing/communications focussed blogs, in any area. If you write about your job, regardless of your industry, do let me know.

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