Why would you want to get published? Why take time out from doing real work to share your thoughts with others? After all, didn't we gladly leave writing behind when we got out of school? But when you share your experiences, you play a part in a larger picture, leaving your mark on the world, and advancing your field.
Why would you want to get published? Why take time out from doing real work to share your thoughts with others? After all, didn't we gladly leave writing behind when we got out of school?
When you share your experiences you play a part in a larger picture, leaving your mark on the world, and advancing your field. Since the software engineering field is still in its infancy, it needs a great deal of advancement. But you're not convinced yet to point your keyboard toward the task of writing words rather than code or test plans or some other real work, are you?
For me, it's easy; I love to write. But most computer professionals are notorious for hating to do documentation. So let me offer some more persuasion. One of the best ways to clarify your own thoughts is to package them in a way that others can understand . How often have you called over a colleague to get his help with a problem, only to solve the problem yourself in the course of describing it to him? Apply that same principle to the techniques that you use on the job. Write out a description of how you do something, and you'll understand it better yourself. You’ll find holes that you didn’t even know needed fixing.
Assuming you find a topic that's related to your work, you'll be providing documentation for your company that perhaps no one would otherwise have had the incentive to write. I published an experience paper about our quality improvement efforts once, and I ended up giving it out to all the candidates for a quality management position so they would understand the recent history of our efforts.
When you get published, you also get a nice addition to your résumé . Make sure your publications get cited in your performance review. When interviewing for a job, you can provide independently verifiable evidence of what you've accomplished, and you make the point that your accomplishments were important enough to share with the public. Getting published can also build your company's reputation—or your own reputation if you're an independent consultant. If your company shows up in the byline, your workplace is seen as promoting exciting things that are worthy of publishing.
So are you convinced that doing a little writing could be a good thing? Have you started to think of some of the things that you've done that people would like to read about? One of the easiest approaches to take is to write an experience paper, describing some unique approach you took and how well it worked. You'll need a passing knowledge of the state of the art—so you have some basis for believing your topic is unique—and you're better off if you reference a few other papers on a similar topic. You might choose to focus on a particular bit of technology instead of a broad experience paper.
Where to Begin
Let's explore the outlets where you might publish your writing. The most accessible medium is probably the Internet. You can post your ideas on Usenet, on a mailing list, or in a Web discussion forum. You can post your works on your own Web page or contribute them to an online E-zine. Some of the most prominent authors in our field will try out their ideas on the Internet before publishing them commercially. You're not likely to make any money by informally publishing your works on the Internet, but you are likely to get much more feedback than you would get with other media. If you're planning to publish your writing
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