Ghost Bin

Testing, testing Radio
And tele-, telephones
Testing, testing, testing,
Testing what goes wrong
-- the ADs
Updated: 4/28/2002; 11:36:38 AM.


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 |::| Sunday, April 28, 2002

 |::|   11:24:38 AM 

To HOME: Well, at least I believe I can reliably state that, after editing the upstream.xml_new file for a category, posting a story to that category no longer replaces the story in the root. However, it also fails to post any story in that category. Now, with this message, I'll find out if I can still post to HOME.

UPDATE: Seems to work. So let's see what happens when I move this to Ghost Bin.

 |::| Wednesday, April 17, 2002

 |::Why RTFM Really Won't Work: Documentation By Community As Reinventing The Wheel  8:35:36 AM 

This whole torrent of drivel about "community-derived documentation" has got to stop.

Scripting News points to Russ Lipton's essay "Why RTFM Won't Work: Documentation As Narrative." Which really got me irritated the first time I read it. Now I feel compelled to put my thoughts down on the matter.

First, what Russ Lipton does is of great value. No question about it.

But when he says "'Real' documentation is narrative - the accumulated lore of a community passionate about its tools," he's implicitly stating that membership in a community is the only real path to knowledge of a software tool. Which is nonsense.

The fact is that Radio's documentation sucks. Trying to figure out how to do anything in it is like pulling teeth. I understand what the "documentation" "model" is based on (in a word, Usenet). That works for some people. It more or less works for me -- which is to say that after 12 years skirting the edges of this business, much of it in end-user support, I've learned to make it work for me. But it doesn't work for the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of people.

And that's not their fault. But purists like Russ Lipton seem bound and determined to make it their problem.

What the "Radio Community" seems to be saying is that they want to have their cake (Radio Userland as a popularly successful platform, broad popular use of their "technologies", the viral spread of ideas like instant outlining and distributed document management), without having to bake it (i.e., writing the documentation that will actually make it possible for Radio to be a popular success).

I'll put this succinctly and bluntly: Users don't want to be a member of a software community. They want to be a member of a bowling league, or a softball team, or a church, or a gold club. They don't want to be a member of a Radio "community." Bloggers, for that matter, want to be members of a blogging community, not a Radio community. If Dave Winer ever read this, he'd say I'm missing the point: That "they" (i.e., what he identifies as the "interop" community) are open-minded, and understand that not everybody has the same needs and interest. But he talks out of both sides of his mouth on the matter.

"In a fashion never anticipated even by the Seymour Papert's of the world, we are all playing lego-like with logo-like languages - or don't Doom, Word, Python and Radio each constitute an authentic linguistic phenomenon?" Sure they do, Russ. Now please go back to your own little world where you have nothing better to do than reinvent the wheel. Or, for that matter, puzzle through someone else's narrative on reinventing the wheel. The rest of us would actually just like to play. The fact that we're not interested in the same games you are shouldn't matter, and yet, for some reason, the ideal that's espoused means it has to.

That may be a fact of life. That doesn't mean I have to like it.