Wednesday, December 26, 2007

RefWorks practice happened last night.

I did a search for my thesis topic and then exported this list from the University of Ottawa library to a Refworks file. I then tried out the bibliography functions of RefWorks further. I used a Science Editor style (I have never heard of this style before) to format this bibliography. The oldest work on this list was from the 1960's. The list was short and included two terms. There is much searching to still be done and one missing search now is of journals and this practice was a Keyword search only of the University catalog. I searched for the terms "Open Source Software" and Software Documentation". The formated bibliography was four pages long. One author on this list was in fact, my future supervisor. So while searching can be done I would be right to actually read these references and especially my supervisor's work. Other catalog searches can still be done of other libraries in Canada and around the world hopefully with RefWorks friendly exports.

I am tired now and feeling easily up and excited and easily pleased with my self, but I also thought the topic of software documentation could be continued by me to the Ph.D level. I could really live with this topic, as I have practical experience working with the subject these days and may be some ideas about it and how to do good documentation. Can I turn this into a field for my studies though? The reason I like this topic also is because it is a slightly literary topic in the field of technical writing which was something the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig did for work after he went on his voyage of recovery and exploration of quality. This book was influential with me in my early college years late high school studies. I also had roommates and later band mates who also read this book and whom I admired. I later learned to rethink this admiration but kept the Robert M. Pirsig story and concepts he wrote about in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance alive in my thoughts. When younger I wanted to have a career in technical writing. That direction I gave up. May be now is the time for a return to this field as a student and theory writer rather than an actual technical writer. Of course his book is considered philosophy. See this Wikepedia entry for this book. I also trust that my boss has said software documentation is a very important topic thus agreeing with my supervisor.

I also practiced with a search for a rare health topic that produced 994 records. This list I formated in APA style both with and without abstracts. I then started to copy these to note cards in Second Life. I am not done that but it was fun to push the length limits of note cards in Second Life and I broke up the bibliography into different letter sets. I mostly had to go one note card per letter of the alphabet with the long APA list with abstracts. This later transfer is not complete yet in Second Life.

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