Discussion: Documentation

Documentation (and Skill-Share)

lead by: Vanessa Carpenter, Meg Grant and Hannah Perner-Wilson

In modern craftsmanship, the traditional structure of apprenticeship no longer provides the dominant platform for learning and sharing skills and technical knowledge. Instead, new systems are being used to pass on information from experts to novice practitioners, as well as between peers.
In this session we will introduce contemporary accounts of documentation and skill-share. That make use of modern media and tools as well as communities, networks and residencies to pass on information.


History of documentation

- Hannah points [images on summer camp]

- Types of approaches to documentation – product, selling, communicating, technical, what to share, publication, showcase. [instructables, makezine, hackaday, TAT]

- Patents

- Academic vs. Maker/online Community [makezine, acm] – Secret tip

- Same idea problem [Eggbot]

- Change the way academia does work

- Value in the work you’ve done


Why is it valuable?

- Publishing

- Share with others

- Get feedback

- Time stamp idea

- Establish community

- Finished? Perfect? – Value in unfinished work. [Hannah]

- Internet is my art gallery [Flickr, Fashioning Tech, Sparkfun, Youtube, Vimeo]

- Publish early & often [flickr/iphoto example]

- Old versus new school – selecting where you publish: Personality. Business vs. Research – is it fun? Each give example.

Meg: No FB/Twitter

Vanessa: Connectedness example

Hannah: Easy workflow, flickr – blog – instructable

- Feedback – ideas, inspiration (participating in community), comment.  [instructables comment section]

- Writing it for yourself as well, Google, makers, colleagues, but write it for a general audience. [Hannah's tutorials, Vanessa's blog]

- Instructions

- Insights

- Why / What happened / Next time

- Open source goodness: Android / Adafruit / Arduino [Adafruit]


How to structure documentation

- Types:

- Illustrations – Circuit Design/Apology Helmet (valuable to yourself) [apology helmet]

- Photos; people, closeup gear, closeup interaction, work, hidden, overview, first person, things that went wrong [slide]

- Videos [3 videos: demonstration, trailer, full documentation]

- Using Music: ccmixter.org

- Routine

- Document everything and later sort

- Milestones: areas of research – background research

- News narrative


Different kinds of documentation

- Commenting Code & Help

- Tools: Versioning / Subversion

- Connectedness: Twitter to FB to Buzz to LI

- Free websites: Weebly, WordPress

- Camtasia


Search Tips:


- Where’s the text?

- Which language to choose?

- Instructables example

- Being searched

- Search on each of us

- Textile Sensor

- Giant Printer, Wedding bouquet

- Finnish art secret glove story

- Exploding video

- How to search

- Associations

- In another language

- Quotations ++

- Search for search terms and then try general subject to search for similar words “shift registers” example

- Search before you ask / company / & answer! – Be specific! [adafruit forum]

- Respect people’s time

- Put the solution next to your question

























A brief history of documentation and skill-share

Why document?
- Motivations for documenting and sharing

How to pass on tacit knowledge?
- Intrinsic vs. extrinsic knowledge and skill…
It is not easy to pass on tacit knowledge via text. Use of pictures and videos may help, but still there is a certain “know how” developed in documenting these knowledge in order to pass on to the others. Can we really learn “how to ride a bicycle” from internet?

Types of documentation media
- Static: text, photo, video, illustration, books, recipes, online documentation, step-by-step tutorials…
- “Interactive” and “real-time”: workshops, residencies, online communities, forums, Do It With Others (DIWO)…
Apprentice in this new craft starts their practices with “online tutorials”. Experienced craftsman pass on their trade through online documents or by holding workshops. When one reaches a journeyman state, he/she may travel the world as an “artist-in-residence” or “intern” to gain his/her experiences.

Documentation tools
- Pen&paper, camera, version control software, downloads,

Keeping things up-to-date
- Version control, downloads, links….

How to find and be found
- …

Contemporary trade secrets
- Questions of authorship, recognition, Open Source, engaging others in sharing…
In old guild system, it was often the case to keep their “tips and tricks” in secret. In modern craft practices, many makers and DIY communities open their “source”, spreading their trade. The notion of “DIWO (Do it with others)” is a new guild system of 21st centuries?


Meg Grant
- commenting code
- version control and file management
- photos and online publishing (this might overlap a bit, but perhaps i can focus more on creating good content than where to put it)
- a little bit about searching (and being searched)
- also share my tips on participating in online communities
>> Download presentation

Venessa Carpenter
- Documentation basics: the brainstorm, the process, the outcome.
- Photos, videos, how and what to shoot, when, and editing ideas and tips.
- Publishing online (youtube, flickr, facebook, blip, etc…)
- Input and output channels (Makezine, hackaday, sparkfun) – (learning from, and contributing to, online communities).
>> Download presentation

Hannah Perner-Wilson
- A brief history of documentation and skill-share
- The value of documentation: for yourself and others
- Documenting while doing: establishing a work-flow and a set of tools
- Structuring tutorials: what to include
- Useless examples: encouraging comments and feedback
- Getting back to people: answering questions
>> Link to Hannah’s presentation

Keywords: documentation, tutorial, tacit knowledge, open source, guild, DIWOI

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