Introducing: Documentation strategy

Re-posted from Status.net.

No wait, don't leave! Documentation isn't boring! I promise! Hi, I'm Emma Jane Hogbin (@emmajanedotnet) and I'll be your Documentation Strategist (and tech author) for the 1.0 release of StatusNet. You may know me from such projects as the Drupal Documentation Team, the Bazaar version control system, Writing Open Source (the very first-ever open source documentation conference) and the Linux Documentation Project. I'm absolutely thrilled to be working with StatusNet.

Just in case you missed my talk at the Ontario GNU Linux Fest (video and slides) this fall, here's the plan: we're going to design our documentation to be usable, maintainable and translatable from day one. (We even have a plan.) We're putting developer documentation where developers need it; and user documentation where real people need help. Think of it as the "whistle while you work" approach. But it gets even better: the documentation will be reviewed per major release cycle to find areas where the code needs to be improved. The wiki edits to the documentation will be the canary in the coal mine for the StatusNet experience.

Most normal people think of writing documentation as being necessary, but not fun. Fortunately I'm one of those do-less-work kinds of people. I'm not into writing tomes of information that no one will read. I want only the Ikea instruction drawings in places where people actually need help. Here's where I need your help: whether you're a beginner, or a pro, I need to know the times when the StatusNet experience could have been made easier if we'd slipped in some instructions. We got the ball rolling at StatusCampMontreal and here's how it worked: Tell me, in less than 140 characters, what the pain points are (or were) for you. If you're on Identi.ca, tag your notices with #painpoints. If you want to add a little more detail, please add your pain points to the wiki, or drop me an email (emma@status.net).

I'm looking forward to uncovering some of your blisters and making the user experience even better in StatusNet 1.0.

Moderating backchannel content streams at conferences

Today I saw a tweet about danah boyd's speaking experience at Web Expo 2.0 earlier this month. Intrigued I followed the link and read her account of having a (twitter) back channel posted behind her during her keynote presentation. I intially clicked through because the tweet included a pretty sensational quote from the blog post which said danah felt objectified by the experience. Lots of other people have blogged this story (and I'm sure there were others too). What happened was pretty nasty. Please do read about it and think about how you would have responded in that situation. Write up your own response if you want. Then when you've finished, come back here.

Making our passion accessible

I may have mentioned this in passing once or twice before: I don't actually like technology. I'm not a gadget person. I don't see why I need to upgrade my Blackberry to something more "open" or "current." I'm not the first to rush into the latest social media Web site and I still can't figure out how Google Wave is going to revolutionise the way I communicate. What I do care about is making technology accessible to people who are currently cut out of the arena. Whether it's fear or finances or some other barrier, I am passionate about leveling the playing field for people who feel left out. Last night I got to spend a little bit of time with two others who are also passionate about making their industry accessible.

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