Teaching Writing Skills

All of my friends who have taught composition are appalled when they hear me say that I want to teach writing. But it's true: I would be interested in having the opportunity to give people the kind of writing education that I never got to have. I've even collected a few of these ideas on a very rough "pedagogy" page. This post, by contrast, will be a list of "things I wish I could have learned before I got a job writing.…

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Is Dropbox the Mobile File System Standard

I've started using Dropbox on my Android devices recently (and my laptop as a result, [1]) and I'm incredibly impressed with the software and with the way that this service is a perfect example of the kind of web services that we need to see more of. While I have some fairly uninteresting concerns about data security and relying on a service that I'm not administrating personally, I think it's too easy to get caught up the implications of where the data lives and forget what the implications of having "just works," file syncing between every computer.…

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Why you Don't Want Programers to Write Your Documentation

So the documentation sucks. Hire someone to make the documentation suck less. Simple enough, right? Right. Just don't hire a programmer to write documentation, even though this seems to be a pretty common impulse. There are a lot of reasons, but here are some of the most important from my perspective: Programmers focus on the code they write, or might write, to be able to describe and document entire projects. It's really hard to get programmers to approach documentation from the biggest possible frame.…

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Overdue Update

I went through a few days ago to collect all of the updates and work that I'd done since the last time I did one of these posts. Sometimes just looking through an activity log is all you need to remember that you're actually doing something. Here's what I've been working on: isd" is a developing page of material for my ongoing story project. I've written it in my "Wiki Fiction" post.…

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Writing Software Beyond Emacs

The ideal writing application is emacs, at least for me. In the absence of emacs (as on a tablet,) I've been thinking about what features I actually need in a writing application. While I've grown to admire the power of a full Lisp machine in my text editor, I accept that it's not, strictly speaking required. Here's a first stab at the list of requirements. Feel free to comment or submit a patch to this page.…

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Android Tablets and the Workstations of the Future

I've only had the tablet for a few weeks, but I'm pretty sure the tablet incarnation of Android is probably 80% of what most users need in a workstation. I'm not most users, but I figure: hook up a big screen and a real keyboard. Create some key bindings to replace most of the gestures, and write a few pieces of software to handle document production, presentations, and spreadsheets in a slightly more robust manner, and you're basically there.…

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Publishing System Requirements

Like issue tracking systems, documentation publication systems are never quite perfect. There are dozens of options, and most of them are horrible and difficult to use for one reason or another. Rather than outline why these systems are less than ideal, I want to provide a list of basic requirements that I think every documentation publishing system [1] should have. Requirements Tag System. You have to be able to identify and link different pieces of content together in unique and potentially dynamic ways across a number of dimensions.…

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