Alternative documentation

July 22, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Posted in Performance | 1 Comment
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I started the working day with a blank piece of paper and the goal of completing a technical article. As so often when I write I need to build up some structure before launching into writing words: headings, concepts and key ideas.

Sometimes I even find it difficult to conceive and organise the ideas I want to write about. On these occasions I start mind mapping; writing down random ideas on the subject and then connecting, extending and elaborating. The article structure usually flows directly from this activity.

The ideas are generated in a non-linear and inter-linked manner. In fact it struck me that the standard text-based article or document presented in a web browser or document viewer tends to present ideas in a highly linear manner with only limited linking functionally. In many ways the text document is a poor vehicle for presenting some technical material.

I also spent much of the day catching up on Documentum technical videos. I was struck by how effective they are at presenting both conceptual ideas and simple how-to demonstrations.

Both these ideas set me thinking about alternative methods of presenting project information. I tweeted the idea looking to see if anyone else had thoughts in this area. Lee Dallas responded with his experience: video knowledge capture, in fact he expanded his tweet into a blog post http://bit.ly/phLkdd.

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  1. As I commented on Lee’s blog, how-to videos are the worst for me, especially if they are coding examples. Not being able to copy/paste important parts is a huge shortcoming of video. And if there are a lot of things happening too quickly in the video, I need to rewatch sections repeatedly to understand it. Perhaps the latter is a flaw in a poorly done video, but I don’t have this issue with written documentation.


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