Saturday, October 2, 2010

writing_mode(:terse); A Haiku Form for Technical Blogging

I find myself skimming over other people's writing. It contains too much useless chatter, good for emotional play but a block to rapid information retrieval.

So as an experiment I will make some of my posts ultra terse. Motivated by minimalist technical writing strategies and agile methods, the result will heavily depend upon the domain and working context to make sense.

Some heuristics to start

  • omit emotional fluff
  • don't write like to speak; omit crutch phrases, guarding language and verbal padding 
  • control ego; avoid personal pronouns whenever feasible
  • no paragraphs; use two sentence chunks at most 
  • grammar to serve, not rule: omitted verbs, sentence fragments, and imperatives are OK 
  • cite references; break up or omit ideas that require explanation
  • whitespace and bullets to provide visual breaks
  • avoid self-indulgence in story telling and tutorial guidance

Summarize. If it takes longer than a few minutes to write, it is probably too long to read.


Refine. The result should have a brain-feel akin to an enjoyable haiku. 


Soyez sages, les enfants!
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