Sweater Stories

I think the difference between writing technical documentation and knitting patterns is not terribly significant, and I've been known to talk at some length about this connection. While I've always been technically inclined, I started writing documentation after learning how to write knitting patterns. In the end, the things you have to know and do to write clear instructions is less about knowing about the technical underpinning, more about the mechanics of writing clear instructions and understanding process abstractly.…

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Hyperlinks

Though short, this week has been pretty good. I've been doing cool things at work, I've been writing and posting blog entries, and fiction(!), I'm on top of email, and the sweater is growing. I hope this isn't just a fluke and that I can keep this up and also expand slightly into doing a bit more reading. Small steps. I've done a little bit of work on the wiki and site.…

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Critical Practice

Being a critic is not simply looking for the points of failure, shortcomings, and breaking points in cultural artifacts (e.g. music, art, literature, software, technology, and so forth.) Criticism is a practice of comparison and rich analysis and a way of understanding cultural production. One might even call criticism a methodology, though "methodologizing" criticism does not give us anything particularly useful, nor does it make any practices or skills more concrete.…

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The Structured and Unstructured Data Challenge

The Debate Computer programmers want data to be as structured as possible. If you don't give users a lot of room to do unpredictable things, it's easier to write software that does cool things. Users on the other hand, want (or think that they want) total control over data and the ability to do whatever they want. The problem is they don't. Most digital collateral, even the content stored in unstructured formats, is pretty structured.…

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Big Data Impact

I've been milling over this post about big data in the IT world for quite a while. It basically says that given large (and growing) data sets, companies that didn't previously need data researchers suddenly need people to help them use "big data." Everyone company is a data company. In effect we have an ironic counter example to the effect of automation on the need for labor. These would be "data managers" have their work cut out for them.…

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Are We Breaking Google?

Most of the sites I visit these days are: Wikipedia, Facebook, sites written by people I've known online since the late 1990s, people who I met online around 2004, and a few sites that I've learned about through real life connections, open source, and science fiction writing. That's about it, it sounds like a lot, and it is, but the collection is pretty static. As I was writing about my nascent list of technical writing links, I realized that while I've been harping on the idea of manually curated links and digital resources for for a single archives for a couple of years now, I've not really thought about the use or merits of manually curated links to the internet writ large.…

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Make Emacs Better

I love emacs. I'm also aware that emacs is a really complex piece of software with staggering list of features and functionality. I'd love to see more people use emacs, but the start up and switch cost is nearly prohibitive. I do understand that getting through the "emacs learning curve" is part of what makes the emacs experience so good. That said, there really ought to be a way to make it easier for people to start using emacs.…

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