Introduction To Documentation

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pdf version of the base introductory course on documentation

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Introduction To Documentation

  1. 1. Introduction to documentation 125/1, cross 15, main 5, block 2, r t nagar, bangalore, india 560032 e: training@openspace.org.in
  2. 2. The communication loop IDEA [ABSTRACT?] IDEA? [ABSTRACT] ARC OF DISTORTION FEED BACK
  3. 3. Experts? • Documents fulfil purpose: proposals sanctioned! • Instinctive. • Science. [Minimise the arc of distortion]. • Art. [Unity of mind]. • ‘He only told us what we already knew.’
  4. 4. Why document • Because we forget. • Reach more people. To • Record. • Inspire. • Inform.
  5. 5. Why document • Support your work – Why is it important? – What effort went into it? • Raise credibility. – Become an information provider on a specific topic. • Generate income. • Share – Ideas – Experiences. – Knowledge. – Innovation. – New technologies.
  6. 6. Why document • Capture indigenous knowledge. • Institutional learning. – Embed values and wisdom in the institution. • For advocacy – Policy analysis – Part of a campaign
  7. 7. Before you start • WHY am I documenting this? – To inform. [Das Kapital] – To persuade. [The communist manifesto] – A call to action. [‘Workers of the world unite!’]
  8. 8. Before you start • WHAT do I want to say? • WHO is the intended reader? – A real person. – Gender. – Age. – Education. – Rural or urban. – Interests. – Income. – ...and what else she reads.
  9. 9. Before you start • WHEN is the document needed? • WHERE is the document going to be used? – Internal. – In libraries. – In the field. – How long does it have to last?
  10. 10. Before you start: How? • Language. – Which language will be used? – How specialised or how technical? – How formal, emotional or factual? – How simple a vocabulary? • Which units to use? [This is specially so for translations]. • Medium [Which is best: print, audio visual?]. • Format [book, brochure...]. • Formality of design. • Length. • How much information should be given? – As much as necessary, as little as possible. – Simplify and reduce. – Do not leave out facts.
  11. 11. The ABCs All documents should be: • Accurate. – Facts are sacred, but comment is free. • Brief. – Be short, be sweet, be gone. • Clear. – Songs that `people can hum on the way back from the movie, and whistle during work the next day.' – Short sentences. – Simple words.
  12. 12. ABCDs of documentation Basic Better Best A Accurate Appropriate Authority B Brief Basic Benefit C Clear Charming Chosen D Deadline Desired Behaviour Dignity
  13. 13. A brief KISS ‘All documents must have three eyes to see.’ – Intelligent. – Intelligible. – Interesting. – Coherent. – Charming. ‘KISS MII.’
  14. 14. ‘Rules’ • Proximity. • Pegging: intellectual judo. • Humour. • Contrasts. • Human interest. • Explain. – Illustrations. – Photographs. – Tables. – Data.
  15. 15. The 3 R’s • Responsible. • Right information. • Read.
  16. 16. Be sensitive • Political correctness. • Unbiased. – ‘Challenged’ or abilities. – Gender. – Dalit. – Ethnic. • Keep the different – Language. perspectives over time. – Age. – Lower caste – Culture – Scheduled caste • Short–hand codes. – Harijan – Merit. – Dalit – Uniform civil code. – Productive caste – No dowry. – Caste name doesn’t matter – Conversions. [?!]. – Dharma.
  17. 17. Credit and responsibility Respect, but not romanticise the people. Value their contribution, but do not undervalue yours. • ‘As much as necessary, as little as possible.’ Or • ‘As brief as possible, as comprehensive as necessary.’
  18. 18. Statistics • Add authenticity to your position. • Are useful only if you have complete data. • Put what is important into tables. • Give a self–explanatory title to the table. • Give from where you got the figures. [Source.] • Explain figures in the text. • Figures are words. They need to be arranged into sentences and paragraphs. • What do the figures actually mean? • People can relate only to figures between 1–100.
  19. 19. Statistics If you did your own research • Be careful of the methodology. • Recheck and explain any abnormality. • Mention the limitations and strengths of the data. • Why is your data more authentic? • Have complete data.
  20. 20. Case study Case studies are: • To tell of the impact in the lives of ordinary people. • To illustrate a point in 20 to 30 words. • A person affected in about 100 to 200 words. • A composite [or fictional] case study. • A quotation from an affected person.
  21. 21. Case study The story should cover • The situation before the intervention. • The person and her: – Struggles. – Triumphs. – Emotions. – Support and hostility. – Who, when, where, why... – Feelings. • The changes that the intervention made. • In the life of the one person and family. • The number ‘replicated’ in the community. • The tasks ahead.
  22. 22. Make documents attractive • Vary the styles to – Highlight. – Emphasise. – Keep reader interest. • Use. – Bold. – Underline. – Italics. – ... just a little bit only.
  23. 23. Text design • Headings and subheads • Indicate the transition of ideas. • Use of white space. • Balance pictures and text. – Too much text: intimidating. – Too little margins make the book difficult to open and read. – Too much white space is a waste of • Paper • Postage.
  24. 24. Illustrations and photographs • The `movement' should be towards the reader. • Book: From left to right on the left page, and right to left on the right page. • Be in the idiom the audience understands. • Have a single message. – Have a clear message. – Give solid information. – Create emotion. – Be technically good.
  25. 25. Costs involved Organisational resources: • 20% Documentation and learning. • Documentation needs 10% of – Time. – People. – Material or infrastructure. – Money. • Everyone can but one person must: – Collective decision making but individual responsibility.
  26. 26. Reducing costs Reduce costs by piggy backing. • Monthly reports: keep the larger purpose in mind. • Track key indicators continuously. • Package the same material differently. • Develop formats. • Keep adding insights.
  27. 27. Nobody gets it right the first time... but where there is nothing, what you have is the best. • Small things make perfection... • Little drops of water... • The longest journey begins with a single step...

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