[ZDP] OpenContent issues

David Ascher da@ski.org
Tue, 18 May 1999 09:45:25 -0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

On Tue, 18 May 1999, Martijn Faassen wrote:
> [David Ascher saying O'Reilly has people interested in Zope]
> [Paul talking about how Zope is edging closer to the 'up into infinity'
> part of the growth curve]
> I think our course should not be directed towards a book -- we should
> be interested in documention of all levels though, from beginner to
> advanced. If very well written, documentation of this sort starts
> resembling a book anyway. If we don't reach that quality, we still have
> documentation anyway (more docs are always better than less docs :).

FWIW, I think that folks who are spending a lot of time writing
documentation *should* think about writing a book, for a few reasons:

  1) Books have credibility and impact that online docs don't have.
     Especially with the broad market of webmasters (as opposed to
     hackers), "packaging" of the Zope meme (that's a buzzword from Paul
     that I think has value, unlike the Line business =) has an impact.
     Hence the PR firm, hence LinuxExpo, etc.  Book lend credibility to
     the technology.

  2) Writing several hundred pages of good doc which *works* is hard, and
     the authors of said doc should be rewarded for it.

  3) Having $'s be part of that reward may allow some writers to devote
     serious amounts of time to said writing, something they may not be
     able to do without an alternative source of income.  I wouldn't have
     been able to afford Learning Python without an advance and the
     expectation of royalties, no matter how much good karma I may
     end up accumulating in the Great Accounting Book.

  4) There is value in having professional editors, proofers, designers
     help with the production process.  They have mouths to feed, and need
     to be paid.

Anyway, all this is *not* to say that the ZDP should aim to produce a
book. Just that *someone* should produce a Zope book, and I was guessing
that the most likely candidates for such a project are on this mailing
list.  FWIW, I think the fewer authors the better for a book.  
Consistency of style enhances readability.

And before I'm misunderstood, I'm all for free docs.  I learned Python
with the online docs, and I'm pleased that the Numeric documentation which
I did most of the writing for is available for free.  Free doc and books
are complementary branches of a documentation strategy.