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.

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