Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Writing Matters

Good writing doesn't have to be a literary book like Moby Dick. It doesn't even have to be Dave Barry Slept Here. Good writing can be technical. It can be about computers (imagine!). As long as people can read it, understand it, and enjoy it, the writing is good.

Proof of this maxim can be found in a collection of writings collected in Joel Spolsky's book, The Best Software Writing I. Not all the featured writers are professionals. But all the writing featured is good.

Some history behind the making of Spolsky's book can be heard in a podcast recently produced by IT Conversations. Some of the best advice Spolsky has for writers is to tell stories whenever possible, anticipate readers' questions, answer those questions in the order in which readers are likely to ask them, and, if you have a knack for it, dare to be funny.

Some of the peices of writing collected in Spolsky's book include Style is Substance by Ken Arnold, Passion by Ron Jeffries, Great Hackers by Paul Graham, Autistic Social Software by Danah Boyd, A Quick (and Hopefully Painless) Ride Through Ruby (with Cartoon Foxes) by why the lucky stiff, and Excel as a Database by Rory Blyth. The whole table of contents, plus the introduction, is here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Geek-Ed Podcast

On Bob Sprankle's recommendation I am dipping into the Geek-Ed podcast. Verdict: fun, smart, informed, and inspiring!

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Last night I attended a poetry reading at the Orpheum Theater in Sioux Falls. The event was part of the South Dakota Festival of Books and featured five poets, including Ted Kooser, our former national poet laureate.

Anyway, after the assembled poets had read their assembled poems (which I thoroughly enjoyed hearing, by the way), their leader asked the audience if we had any questions. So I stood up. I couldn't resist. I had a question. I wanted to know what general advice do these well known and well respected poets, each of whom teaches or has taught writing at the college or postgraduate level, give their writing students. To a one, the response was the same. If you want to write, you gotta READ!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Web Guru Wanted

My school, Dakota State University, is looking to hire a "Coordinator of Electronic Communications". The full job ad can be found here.

Update: we found one.

The Coded Language of FaceBook

Okay, so I thought I knew my way around Facebook pretty well, but I read something on a profile page today that really stumped me.

As a more Facebook-savvy colleague explained it to me, in the parlance of Facebook, being married is not the same as being married. It's more like "going steady". Hence, one can be married and still be looking. What's more, one can describe oneself as married (but not married) to a friend of the same sex in order to communicate one's sexual liberation, but not necessarily declare for oneself a particular sexual orientation.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

And We're Back!

Yes, the denizens of Beadle Hall have returned to our respective nooks. Now entering the fourth week of the Fall 2006 semester, we begin to sense a rhythm to our classes, office hours, and meetings.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back to School Shopping

Something old
Something new
All of it free
Is it useful to you?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cleaning Day

Yesterday we cleaned up a bit, adding organizing bins to the child's room. Think we may have gone too far?

Friday, September 01, 2006