Before I get too far into my geek-work for the day, I wanted to scribble something down here. I was listening to an IT Conversations podcast from something that Tom Malone did entitled Perspectives. His thesis that I gleaned was that the lowering cost of communications has enabled huge tranformative properties in history – in particular, he pointed out governmental structures changing towards from decentralized bands to centralized power to democracies (although I think there’s some worthy debating of if we’ve really made the move to a democracy in the classic greek sense of it.) He was making a similiar point towards the changing structure of business – from the “mom & pop” to the larger corporate structure – and now something new, a “democracy” for business. It’s a leap that I’m not sure I’m buying, but still sent my mind off in an interesting jag…

Now we are seeing the “success” of wikipedia, and it is becoming more common to see collaborative development of online documentation, where can we go from here? PHP’s documentation set being the earliest example I remember, but the most recently useful was Django documentation (where the comments have been invaluable). Django‘s set of documentation has been supplemented by a wiki – which I view as mostly successful, but it has drawbacks as well – primarily being difficult to find the relevant tidbits, or even realize they are there (the mailing lists reference the wiki quite a bit, but the internal docs don’t so much).

What can we do to encourage online documentation? Is there some variation on the form of a wiki that would enable better tutorials? Some combination of locked and editable pages that could make it easy to develop documentation and/or tutorials? Communities are forming around technologies – how can we most effectively leverage that? It has been mailing lists, usenet, wikis – is there something more we can do to make the learning process easier to encourage folks to pick up what we’ve learned and love?

Published by heckj

Developer, author, and life-long student. Writes online at

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