Tag Archives: book

techpubs wiki writing

Must Read: Confluence, Tech Comm, Chocolate

“Who cares about printing money, let’s print chocolate!”

–Chapter 23, Driving Wiki Development, Confluence, Tech Comm, Chocolate

Do you need proof that Sarah Maddox, author of Confluence, Tech Comm, Chocolate: A wiki as platform extraordinaire for technical communication, is a complete chocolate and wiki expert? Let me tell you, she knew that one day we will print chocolate in our (industrial-grade) kitchens. And sure enough, that day has arrived! And so has her book. It’s a wonderful addition to the XML Press family.

Sarah has an amazing knack to start at the beginning and introduce wikis in a friendly way even though she has been living the wiki life for years. She writes an introduction to wikis in an approachable way and ensures the reader knows the context is technical communication. But for me there are technical details revealed that offer the best chapters of this book. There is the deep technical dive into “building online help” especially her case study of web-based, context-sensitive online help. This solution should rock your world if you’re looking for a cross-platform web delivery of your online help. Her chapter about “a day in the life” of the wiki is just what you need to understand how this delivery and collaboration solution is different from “ordinary” technical writing. And I thoroughly reviewed and enjoyed “Giving your wiki wings.” Wikis with wings are the way technical writers will show their value to the world. I especially appreciate the chapter “Driving wiki development,” where Sarah is clearly honest about gaps in wiki functionality and how we can actually improve our experiences with wikis.

This book is an important, essential addition to the professional writer’s bookshelf. I’ve already whole-heartedly recommended it to an entire team of Rackspace writers and to all my Austin-based writer friends who have listened to me talk about the changes in the industry over the years. I want to recommend it to all of you as well. This book offers both visionary inspiration and the nitty-gritty technical details for all of us working in this web-centric world. I have so much respect for Sarah’s work on this book. Her enthusiasm for the wiki way shines through each page – web page and printed page. Pick up a copy, devour it like a chocolate bar, and drive collaboration for technical content.

Buy now at Barnes and Noble

Buy now at Amazon.com

techpubs writing

Open Advice Book Now Available

Open Advice coverWhat we wish we had known when we started working on free open source software (FOSS) – that is the premise of this essay collection, Open Advice. What’s especially interesting to me after having read all 42 essays is there isn’t really a pattern like you’d see when looking at “what I would tell my younger self” such as “believe in yourself” or “don’t worry about what others think.” Those themes do come through, but the heart of the collection centers on open source projects, software, users, coders, and the myriad roles that make an open source project great. It’s a collection of great stories and great experiences.

One theme that stuck out to me was “I wish I had been less arrogant.” So many people, women especially, can be put off by the attitudes displayed by an open source online chat room or mailing list. I know I’m happy to see more women’s names on the OpenStack mailing list, asking and answering questions. I’m also happy to note that the OpenStack community is polite, professional, and welcoming to all.

An essay that fascinated me was “27 Things I’m Happy I Didn’t Know” by Alexandra Leisse. Ignorance is bliss in many arenas, open source is no exception. Sometimes learning from mistakes is the best lesson.

I also loved the “Never on a Friday” section of Sally Khudairi‘s essay that leads with “Everyone is a marketer.” She launched a new homepage for W3C on a Friday then boarded a plane for Paris. She landed to a flood of messages about a particular tag choice. Fabulous story.

Dave Neary‘s essay about conference planning, “Getting People Together,” has a detailed section about budgets and funding plus content and parties. Valuable and practical, this essay should be required reading for both conference planners and attendees.

What did I write about? Documentation and My Former Self is the title, and in it I realize how many contradictions I’ve discovered on my journey. Often, adding more and more observations will bring a flip turn to my stance on a documentation strategy. Fascinating.

The Open Advice book in PDF format is downloadable for all and I’d encourage you to read it, enjoy it, learn from it, and share it. Then, join in an open source community with those lessons already learned.

Exciting Future for Collaborative Printed Electronic Books

The future of the book is in your hands from Sourcefabric on Vimeo.

Sourcefabric builds open source software to support independent media worldwide. On February 14th, we’ll announce our tool to help people and organisations write and publish great multi-platform books.

Write and publish great books ready for iPad, Kindle, Nook or print within minutes. Write, translate or reuse content by yourself or with others and let the platform take care of structure, formatting, licensing, versions and export to book formatted pdf, epub, odt or html.

Share, reuse and remix content, chapters or even entire books. For example, import an epub from Gutenberg or a colleague’s textbook, rework and then publish to archive.org, lulu.com or another bookmaking community!

February 14th 2012. The next chapter in publishing.


Wow, oh Wow – Book Reading at SXSW Interactive!

I’ve been given a 20-minute book reading opportunity at SXSWi! I’ve been to SXSW Interactive at least three times over the past five years, and I’m a huge fan of the conference. So, when I saw an email in my inbox from Hugh Forrest, the organizer, I ran around my (home) office with glee!

Here’s a description of the reading, which is scheduled for Tuesday, March 16th at 12:30.

A reading by the author of Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation. This book brings together the worlds of technical communication and social media. It shows how technical communicators can effectively use social media, and describes why quality technical content is essential to a successful social media strategy.

You can add it to your schedule using this link. I’d love to meet you there, and would love your suggestions for what to read from my book. I’m just amazed to have this opportunity and can’t wait to hear questions and comments about the social web for documentation.

My Book Release Party rocked!

I had such a great time at the book release party for Conversation and Community. I know I’m overdue in posting, but wanted to write something up about it. It was fun!

Party planning was fun too. To set the conversation scene, I brought these Table Topics games – the original edition and the book club edition. The cards have questions like, “what did you get into trouble for the most when you were young?” or “what alternative title would you give this book?” These were a lot of fun.

To represent “community” I brought in nearly all of my sons’ Lego figs on square Lego boards as table toppers. They were great fun! I learned later that some of the Star Wars figs are now priced at $10-12 each so some of those centerpieces were in the same range as floral arrangements, ha!

Games and LegosWe had so many people stop by and we filled the room pretty quickly. Often it felt like a reunion of the people in the book and all the writers with whom I have worked which is great fun! My parents came to the party from Dallas, then traded places with my husband so he could attend for a while too. Here’s a picture of me and my awesome husband at the party.
Anne and Paul

I signed books like crazy. I sold out of the box of books and my dad had to dig into my small stash in my car to meet demand. (Thanks Dad!) I also set aside books for people who had asked for signed copies and it’s a good thing I did!

The photographer of the Danish keyboard on the book cover, Jude Theriot, drove up from Houston and brought a signed, matted print of the photo as a gift! It was such a lovely gesture.

Organized, annotated collection of footnotes from my book, Conversation and Community

Delicious.com plays host to all the links from my book, Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation.

I’ve written notes or created quotes for each URL and given them meaningful tags. The main idea is to gather them in once place, organized by chapter. Let me know if I can do anything to make these more useful.









Book Release Party – Conversation and Community

It’s time to celebrate and get together in person to talk about rebooting, remixing, and reinventing technical documentation. If you’re in the Austin area, I’d love to see you at the Book Release Party. Here are the details.

Tuesday August 18, 2009
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
North by Northwest
Restaurant and Brewery
10010 Capital of TX Hwy N
Austin, TX 78759
Cash bar
All are invited! Just be sure you respond so we can arrange the accommodations accordingly.
Go to upcoming.yahoo.com to respond by 8/15.

Book Release Party Invitation
Book Release Party Invitation
techpubs wiki

Free as in freedom, not free as in no cost

I’ve been telling writers early and often about the upcoming Firefox Book Sprint at DocTrain West March 17 and 18 to write a manual for Firefox 3.0 along side of Chris Hofmann, Director of Engineering for the Mozilla Foundation! I can’t go to DocTrain for various reasons, mostly because March is a busy month in Austin with SXSW in the middle of it. But I do plan to help out with writing each day by noon Pacific time and working until I have to pick my kids up from preschool. 🙂

One of the responses I’ve gotten that I think is typical for many professional writers is “I can’t write for free right now.”

So I’ve been working on my statement of value, and here it is. I have found my volunteer work to be invaluable as a learning experience and exercise in connecting to others. But I will also admit that I’d personally love to sell enough books that a “big time” publisher notices and says, wow.

Before the OLPC Book Sprint in August, the FLOSS Manuals community had quite a nice discussion about money and free documentation and I am hoping to convey it accurately to you. Adam Hyde states it much more eloquently than I can in this video.

FM doesn’t intend to necessarily make a profit on book sales, but we aren’t afraid to make money either. Income from book sales is typically used to further fund FM’s goals, though, which is a non-profit model – invest your gains to further your aims.

We have a 2 Euro markup on printed books sold through Lulu but anyone can download the PDF for free from FLOSS Manuals, always. If a book sold 10,000 copies (or some other high number), that book’s Maintainer could give all the money back into FLOSS Manuals, or use the money to do things like pay for development on the project itself, pay themselves a writer or organizer fee (such as 1000 Euros per Book Sprint), pay for travel and accommodation for writers to attend a Book Sprint, or sponsor a Book Sprint to start another related book, and so on.

My point of this post is to try to ensure that writers know that FM is about free as in freedom. FM is in its startup phase but growing fast. If innovation in book publishing is an interest of yours, or if you think you could some day “profit” by contributing to a particular book on FM, then you might want to find out more about involvement in a Book Sprint. It wouldn’t have to be the Firefox one coming up, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to get started.

I’d love to hear what you think about this model.

Embrace the “un”

Embrace the un article thumbnailAn article that Janet Swisher and I wrote for STC Intercom magazine about unconferences, BarCamps, and Book Sprints is available as a PDF file from the stc.org site if you are an STC member. I have permission to post it as well, so click the image for a free download of the PDF file.

Janet and I collaborated on the article by using Google Docs and sharing the editing between us.

Here is an excerpt:

Embracing the Un — When the Community Runs the Event

While Web 2.0 has many definitions, it is fair to say that Web 2.0 involves embracing user-created content and the communities that emerge around that content. One aspect of being a member of a Web 2.0-enabled online community is the real world meetings that can happen at professional conferences or even networking events in your same town or city. User groups or focus groups are one type of real-world meeting, with a single goal in mind.

Unconferences and barcamps are another type of real-world event where people with similar interests and goals can get together to share information. A third type of community event has just emerged and this article highlights aspects this new BookSprint model because of its relevance to technical writing. This article describes the authors’ experiences with participating in these types of events, and in particular the FLOSS Manuals Book Sprint for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, held in August 2008.

Read more

OLPC wiki writing

OLPC Book Ready for G1G1!

Tomorrow, Monday, November 17 is the launch of the new Give One Get One campaign for 2008 – meaning, once again you can buy your very own XO laptop. The tagline for this year is Give a Laptop. Get a Laptop. Change the World.

You can buy yours at amazon.com/xo.

All our community author’s work has culminated into a book that’s now for sale on Lulu, and as soon as we can get it listed on Amazon, the book will be available there as well.

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

The back cover of all FLOSS Manuals books say “Please copy!” We fully intend for the OLPC Laptop Guide to available to anyone who wants one. You can purchase a printed copy at Lulu for a modest markup (that funds future booksprints and the like), or download the PDF, or remix the content at FLOSSManuals.net.

The neat thing is, once you’re done with a real book, you can pass it on to the next person who wants to learn about their XO. My hope is that XO users around the world will get a book and pass it on.

Shows front and back covers of the Laptop Guide for OLPC
Shows front and back covers of the Laptop Guide for OLPC