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  • Ward Cunningham

Start By Making a List

It was two years ago that I first met Thompson Morrison after an introduction by Skip Newberry from the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO). Thompson told me he wanted to write "patterns", a form of concentrated advice, so as to replicate the experience they were having in Dayton.


Turn back the clock twenty-four more years to 1994 you will find me offering advice on this subject in advance of our first ever pattern author's conference in Champaign, Illinois. I wrote a short memo titled "Tips for Writing Patterns".


Tip #1 was to be clear about your subject area. Done.


Tip #2 is worth quoting here:

Make a list of all the little things you have learned through the years about the area. Imagine that your kid brother has just taken responsibility for this area on his first big job. You're getting together this weekend. What are you going to tell him? Make a list.


The specific assignment I gave Thompson was to notice things throughout the day that were small but important and then write about just those things in the quiet of the evening.

I also suggested to him that he should write in a new version of wiki that focused on reorganizing hypertext as authors learn more about their subjects. He did as I suggested and this has become the "garden".


After a year of collecting, and then another year following, by his own invention, tips #3, #4 and #5, you have here this volume, The Dayton Experiment, ready to be applied.


My original memo has been lost, found, and then nearly lost again. Find a copy here.

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