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Writing for the Internet, collaborative writing. Skills (content creation) : collaborative writing IT concepts : compiled versus co-authored documents, structured versus unstructured data . This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. .

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writing for the internet collaborative writing

Writing for the Internet, collaborative writing

Skills (content creation): collaborative writing

IT concepts: compiled versus co-authored documents, structured versus unstructured data

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

short documents in context
Short documents in context
  • Internet concepts
    • Applications
    • Technology
    • Implications for
      • Individuals
      • Organizations
      • Society
  • Internet skills
    • Application development
    • Content creation
      • Text
      • Images
      • Audio
      • Video
writing for the internet
Writing for the Internet

One of our content-creation data types is text – written documents. We distinguish between three forms of Internet writing:

  • Writing short documents
  • Conversational writing
  • Collaborative writing

Some blog posts on writing for the Internet:


writing is important
Writing is important

Jason Fried, co-founder of 37 Signals, a leading Internet software company, looks for writing skills when hiring people:

Probably the most important thing and probably one of the surprises is you have to work with people who are good writers, Jason Fried, 2005.

Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek, a leading Internet software company, on the importance of writing to a developer:

Being able to write clearly, to write English clearly is more important to developing useful software than almost anything else and that's something you’re more likely to learn in the English department than in the computer science department, Joel Spolsky, 2009.

collaborative writing examples
Collaborative writing examples
  • A collection of independent articles like Wikipedia
  • An article or report written by two or more people
  • The manual for a program
  • The evolving plan for a project
  • The description of an event as it is occurring
  • Students sharing lecture notes
  • Students compiling a list of points needing clarification (What was confusing in today’s lecture?)
  • Students compiling a list of possible exam questions
  • Students co-authoring a term paper or answering an essay question

Note – the student examples do not involve the teacher

collaborative document authors
Collaborative document authors
  • Large or small group of authors
  • Author group identified at start of the project or open ended
  • Initiated by a leader or leadership group or by all authors jointly
collaborative writing tools
Collaborative writing tools
  • Google docs and other network-based word processors (unstructured)
  • Wikis (unstructured)
  • Shared relational databases or spreadsheets (structured)
  • Various tools for very large groups (structured)
  • People are working on others that combine advantages of structured and unstructured data

A database or spreadsheet has a defined format. A wiki or word processing document may have a suggested format or template, but it is informal.

compiled and co authored documents
Compiled and co-authored documents
  • Compiled documents – collections of individual parts each written independently
  • Co-authored documents – someone or a group starts a document then the group improves it over time

Compiled documents

  • Co-authored documents
compiled documents
Compiled documents
  • Each section or topic is created and edited by a single person
  • The independently authored sections are assembled to make the compiled document
  • The purpose and structure of the document is determined in advance, though it might evolve
  • Any number of authors
a wiki can begin with a template
A wiki can begin with a template
  • Established by leader or subset of the group members
  • Established jointly by all group members
  • Can the template be changed as the document evolves, and, if so, by whom?
wiki template example 1
Wiki template, example 1

Describe the best class you have taken

  • Class name and number:
  • Professor:
  • This class took a lot of time and work: (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree)
  • What was covered in this class?
  • Why was this class important to you?
wiki template example 2
Wiki template, example 2

Define a multiple choice exam question

  • State the question
  • What concept or skill is this question designed to test?
  • What is the correct answer?
  • Explain your answer

Compiled documents

  • Co-authored documents
co authored documents
Co-authored documents
  • Group members are free to edit any portion of the document
  • The goal is to improve the document with each edit
  • Differences of opinion are resolved on a separate discussion or comment page – the goal is to seek consensus or state both opinions separately
ways to start a co authored document
Ways to start a co-authored document
  • One person starts with a short document or even a single sentence, and it grows organically
  • One person writes the outline and the others each draft a section
  • One person writes the entire first draft (perhaps leaving section headings for others to complete).
  • The group brainstorms the outline, then they each draft a section

Once started, the entire group edits the document.

Can you think of other ways to start?

revising and improving from simple to complex
Revising and improving, from simple to complex
  • Fix typos and spelling errors
  • Fix grammatical errors
  • Add a detail, reference or link
  • Rewrite awkward or ambiguous sentences
  • Add a clarifying example
  • Add the draft of a new sub topic
  • Reorganize or rearrange the document
document revision examples
Document revision examples
  • Jon Udell’s video on the evolution of the Wikipedia article on the heavy metal umlaut.
  • Original version (some x-rated footage)
  • Edited version (x-rated material blocked)

The umlaut

  • Post on the Mumbai massacre.
very large groups require structured solutions
Very large groups require structured solutions
  • PublicMarkup, a platform for public discussion of legislation
  • Intel and ASUS incorporate social networking features in a project where they are asking the public to design a "dream" laptop

Examples and discussion of the above