When I gave a talk about FLOSS Manuals at FSOSS 2010 in October, someone in the audience asked a question I definitely wasn’t prepared for. And I was asked a similar question a couple of times during the event:
Does FLOSS Manuals drive people away from the official documentation?
I tried to explain that explain that one of the goals of FLOSS Manuals (at least from my perspective) is to get people up and running with whatever technology quickly and in a very friendly way. But those manuals don’t cover everything – they get you going. If you want to delve deeper into the software or technology, the official docs are still there.
While that seemed to get some folks more interested in FLOSS Manuals, the question illustrated something of a gap in perception, on my opinion. I don’t think it’s FLOSS Manuals vs. the official documentation or other documentation or sources of information.
I mentioned this to Adam Hyde, the head honcho of FLOSS Manuals, and he’d never been asked that question before. Adam asked me to start a discussion on the FLOSS Manuals mailing list. That posting prompted a lot of interesting responses. You can read the thread, starting here.
But that discussion also got me thinking about this in the context of documentation for commercial products.
If you missed them, take a read. If you read them, then read them again. You never know what you may have missed!
At WritersUA earlier this year, I met Jim Campbell and Shaun McCance. Jim and Shaun do a lot of documentation for a few Open Source projects – including GNOME and XUbuntu.
While out for dinner one night, the subject of conferences came up. We talked a bit about Open Source-specific writing conferences for a while, and things seemed to be left at that.
A couple of months ago, a message from Shaun found its way into my inbox. The subject? Something Shaun was putting together: a three-day conference in Cincinnati focusing on documentation for Open Source. He asked me if I wanted to get involved, and I immediately said Yes!
Shaun’s brainchild is the Open Help Conference. Scheduled for June 3-5, 2011, the conference will bring together people who work on open source or community-based help and help tools.
This isn’t going to be a traditional or even typical technical communication gathering. The Open Help Conference will combine the best elements of a formal conferences, unconferences, and camps. The conference will include traditional presentations, workshops, and open-participation sessions.
While the conference is still in the planning stages, Shaun has a solid group of people working with him. I’m definitely looking forward to this one.
The conference Web site is bare bones at the moment. But keep checking the site for more information about the speakers and the schedule. And if you’re interested in sponsoring the conference, contact Shaun.
Photo credit: Dmitry Goygel-Sokol from Photoxpress
A while back, I attended a very interesting seminar given by a couple of consultants in Toronto. The seminar was an overview of various techniques to help kick start your creativity. It was an interesting experience, and I learned a number of interesting techniques.
One of techniques that I really dove into mind mapping. While mind mapping isn’t new to me, in the past I wasn’t really as comfortable as I should have been with it. During the seminar, something clicked and I finally saw how I could use mind mapping to effectively plan my writing. Not just the freelance writing that I do but any kind of writing, including technical writing.