Thoughts on DocTrain  Clip to Evernote

Yesterday, Scott Abel posted that PubsNet (the company behind the DocTrain conference series) was closing up shop and that DocTrain was no more. Let’s just say that this was a bit of a surprise, and it really saddened me. Sure, it’s a sign of the current economic times but that doesn’t make it any easier.

If you’ve been reading this space for any length of time, you know that over the last few years Aaron and I have been fairly regular participants at DocTrain. We’ve spoken together at DocTrain West twice, participated in a panel another time, and I presented solo at DocTrain East last year. DocTrain was good to us while it lasted.

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Semantic wikis at AutoDesk  Clip to Evernote

Toronto Wiki Tuesdays is back, tomorrow (May 19th) in fact. This time around Michiel Duvekot, Global Technical Lead for Maya Product Support at AutoDesk, will be presenting. His talk will be on how AutoDesk uses semantic wikis to capture knowledge for customer support.

If you’re a wiki enthusiast in the Toronto area, or just want to learn about how one firm is using wikis to capture knowledge, then this is definitely a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Tuesday evening. If you want to attend, you’ll have to join the Toronto Wiki Tuesdays group at

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend. The universe has once again pointed the you-know-what-with-me gun in my direction and my Tuesdays are filled until August.

The Twitter Book and tech comm  Clip to Evernote

Recently, O’Reilly Media released a new book by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein: The Twitter Book. A review of the book will be coming in the next couple of weeks.

What’s interesting about the book isn’t its subject matter, but rather the way in which it was written. Believe it or not, the book was done in PowerPoint. Yes, PowerPoint. A piece of software that’s generally used to create presentation slides.

Shortly after the book’s release, Tim O’Reilly recently blogged about the book, the writing process, and how the approach to the The Twitter Book was an attempt to reinvent the concept of the book in the age of the Web. Read O’Reilly’s post for the details.

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This is shaping up to be a must-read book  Clip to Evernote

Art As I mentioned in a previous post, getting the community of users (yes, that word again) to participate in the documentation process is a tough task. I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure how to do that. I’ve seen a lot of good suggestions about creating communities in general, but very little about sustaining the interest and enthusiasm of that community once the initial glow wears off.

Because of my curiosity about this, one book that I’ve been looking forward since he announced it on his blog is Jono Bacon’s The Art of Community. Bacon is the community manager for Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution, and my distro of choice. And if you know anything about the Ubuntu community (and the Linux community in general), it’s passionate. So, there has to be some benefit to reading about how to engage and build a community from someone who manages one as passionate as this.

What does this have to do with documentation? A lot. As I wrote a couple of paragraphs ago, getting users to participate in the documentation process (and to keep them participating) is difficult. And I think that The Art of Community might just give me a few pointers on this. Especially these topics:

  • Building buzz – think outside the box and excite and enthuse potential community members to join your crusade, build capacity and keep the train running.
  • Measuring aspects of community success – understand, assess and measure your community, discover what can be measured and how to react to the results.

Yes, I am excited about this one. The Art of Community, and Anne Gentle’s upcoming book, sound like they’ll complement each other quite nicely. Get ready to learn …