Book Review: Conversation and Community
I just finished Anne Gentle’s book, Conversation and Community; The Social Web for Documentation, aimed at technical communicators in the web 2.0 times. It’s a great guide to anyone looking to work on documentation, marketing or training using collaborative tools and hoping to engage a community to help you along the way. Anne draws on her years of experience as a technical writer first with BMC software, then as a volunteer for OLPC. She’s now with Open Stack and that shows you just how important documentation is to that project; they hired a pro from the start to get things going.
The book chronicles the rise of wiki and other collaborative writing tools that allow anyone to write and edit alongside the need of projects and companies to provide accurate technical documentation. It also discusses the role of the technical communicator as an important part of the software development process. Yes, there is a role for professional writers and editors in FLOSS projects and it’s worth paying for. If you have any doubts, Andy Oram of O’Reilly offers this wonderful quote in his foreward to the book:
“Take the lead to develop and train your community to use a powerful, interactive educational system, and their productivity will soar.”
Anne’s blog can be found at: http://justwriteclick.com/ The book is available on Amazon.
And put June 3 – 5, 2011 on your calendar if you’re interested in documentation, training or anything to do with open help systems for FOSS projects. Anne, Shaun McCance, myself, and others are putting together a small conference in Cincinnatti, Ohio aimed at everything around writing open source where you’re guaranteed to meet at least 50% of the people on this list of top open source technical writers. We hope you’ll join our conversation.