Dwins’s Weblog

the right audience

Posted in Development,Ideas by dwins on November 13, 2008

I just woke up from a… wow, 2 hour-long nap.  I wasn’t planning to take a nap; I was trying to read a book about JavaScript, a programming language which interests me only due to the fact that I might eventually have some use for it.  (Not that that’s a bad reason to learn a language; there’s only one language out there that I’ve learned for a reason other than that I thought I might need to get stuff done in it; and I even take a certain glee in the raw mindless-effort-reduction capacity of some languages, a la bash:

15:56 < bmmpxf> dwins: iwilling and I are still having trouble getting
 the data in the postgis.  please stand by.
15:57 < dwins> bmmpxf: what sort of trouble? should I lend a hand?
15:59 < bmmpxf> dwins: Just trying to avoid typing in the password lots of times
16:00 < dwins> bmmpxf: parens to the rescue
16:00 < dwins> (for file in *.shp; do shp2pgsql $file; done) | psql
16:01 < dwins> man I love punctuation

Still, JavaScript the language doesn’t interest me half so much as JavaScript the platform for web application development.)

So what happened?  Was I in the wrong frame of mind (is there some sort of reading flow I should get into?)  Is my brain too feeble to handle more than 37 pages of JavaScript’s splendor without needing to recharge?  Is a book a bad way for a programmer to become acquainted with a language?  Did I miss my daily dose of wake-up pills this morning?

I think it’s just that I picked a book that was written for non-developers (from the preface: “We’re geeky, so you don’t have to be!”) and so dumbed things down a bit much.  I didn’t immediately put it down because, hey, I want to be able to explain things to non-developers too!  But after spending forty pages with half-a-dozen sidebar notes saying ‘sorry we included Hello World as an example in a programming text’ and ‘html is a thing you can write in any editor, but don’t use Word!’ I was a little overwhelmed.  Why not just skim, you ask?  This particular book has so few words per page that I found skimming pretty frustrating, it just didn’t work for me.

So, moral of the story: if you read something that’s written for a target audience that clearly doesn’t include you, you’re probably going to feel like you’re going against the flow.  Similarly, if you’re writing a thing (as the OpenGeo team is right now with a serious reworking of the GeoServer documentation) you’re throwing away a lot of your effort if you don’t have the right audience in mind.


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  1. […] am thankful for the privilege of having friends who make me think and laugh, often at the same time. (Links in no particular […]

  2. […] but provides a convenient way of breaking my own ice. [15:25] <sbenthall> you made a post in november which egregiously demonstrates [your] bash fu. [15:25] <sbenthall> I should […]

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