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Friday Philosophy – Publishing rather than Presenting December 18, 2015

Posted by mwidlake in Oracle Scene, publications, writing.
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Have you ever considered writing articles on Oracle subjects? Unlike presenting, there is no need to stand up in front of a scary crowd, remember what it was you wanted to say and risk someone calling you out from the crowd & accusing you of being an idiot {NB people worry a lot about that last one, but I have only seen it happen once – and no one much liked the person doing the calling}. Presenting is not for everyone. But it is not the only way to engage with people or share your knowledge. When you write an article you get to take your time, ensure you are saying what you want to say and you can correct it over time. You can also ask friends to check it over for glaring mistakes or badly written prose before you submit it. I do.

Oracle Scene, Autumn/Winter 2015

Oracle Scene, Autumn/Winter 2015

I can’t say I am an expert, I’ve only written a few articles for publication myself, but I have also been helping out with Oracle Scene in my role as deputy editor. I’ve reviewed a lot of material and helped one or two people update their articles. But there are some ways in which I think publishing is a superior way of communicating when compared to presenting. As I mentioned before, you get more time to “deliver” the material. When you present you will have prepared your slides or demonstrations and, I’d hope, you have practiced it. But the actual delivery is “Bang!” you’re up. What you say, you say, what you don’t is not going to be said – unless it is on the slides (which people may or may not read). With an article, what you actually put out there is something you can check and hone until you are happy. Or you get too close to the submission time to mess about any more…

A published article is there and it will stay there. Presenting is gone as soon as you finish it (unless it has been recorded – and my experience is that recorded presentations do not get watched that often). Many more people are likely to see an article than see you present, especially if you get it into something like Oracle Magazine… Or “Hello”, but that is pretty unlikely for an article about HR apps in the Cloud. That persistence is also a bit of a drawback I find, as I am even more concerned about getting it right. I don’t want to have something that people can constantly point at and say “Hey, that Widlake guy! He actually still USES the Buffer Cache Hit Ratio!”. But it drives me to produce something of a slightly better quality, I feel, than when I present or blog.

I obviously blog quite a bit but I hesitate to say that a blog is quite the same as having something published. When I blog it is me having my say to an audience that chooses to come by and look. If I mess up, you all know who messed up. If I publish, I have to produce something good enough for someone else to say “yeah, that is good enough to be in my publication”. And if I have messed up, I’ve messed up a bit of their publication. I can actually modify or remove anything I blog, it is under my control. However, when I do an article in a magazine, it is fixed once it has passed the copy edit check. So blogs are different, they are “softer”. I would say, though, that web sites that give information in a more formal way, like the wonderful Oracle Base by Tim Hall or fantastic oracle-developer by Adrian Billington are more like published material. A kind of half-way-house.

Where a published article wins out over a blog is in audience reach. I know that lots of people who would never visit my blog will see it, maybe people who will remember the great article I did and even recognise my name. You never know, one day it might help me land a piece of work. A published article will also be read by people outside of my sphere, some people who are reading it for the Apps content might look over my article, especially one that is an introduction to a subject.

Another of the great things about a published article is it can be referenced back to or, if it is a printed publication, there on your desk to look at as you try things out on the computer. We all tend to have larger computer screens now and even multiple ones {I would struggle to go back to a single screen} and use online material, but nothing beats having a physical copy to read and move about the desk. It leaves the computer screens free for everything else and you can take the magazine or printout around with you when you don’t want to have a laptop or tablet with you.

I guess I am more proud of my publications in Oracle Scene than my blogs. My mum even paid a tiny bit of interest in me having an article in a “real” publication.

os57cover

And this leads me on to the real purpose of this piece. I’d encourage you to submit articles to Oracle Scene. The call for articles for edition 59, to be published in Spring 2016, closes on 11th January. You can find the editorial calendar here which tells you about the dates for the next and future publications. If you want an excuse to get away from the relatives this Christmas, why not write and submit an article? We are always looking for good articles and series of articles. Check out the current edition online {the current edition is free to anyone to view online} to see what sort of things we cover, which is all aspects of the Oracle tech and Oracle apps. We are particularly keen to get more Apps articles as they are currently under-represented, but we of course are also interested in technical pieces.

We are moving to publishing Oracle Scene four times a year and with more content each copy. With “Oracle Magazine” going digital-only, I think Oracle Scene is now the only physically published magazine on Oracle technology. Oracle’s “Profit” magazine is still available in print but it is mainly focused on the business side of using Oracle solutions. When I was in the US for OOW15 I mentioned Oracle Scene to a few people and that it was still a physical publication, as well as available digitally, and that seemed to be of interest to most of them. Physical copies are available at all UKOUG events and are placed in Oracle Offices. If you have ever sat in reception waiting to see someone in Oracle, there were probably a few copies near you! You may well have read some of it, whilst waiting for Larry to see you.

I’ll finish with a few words on what we look for in articles {I may well do a longer piece on this at a later date, especially if any of you tell me you would like to see it}. We avoid sales pieces. If you work for “United Mega Corp” and every sentence has “United Mega Corp” in it or you are just trying to sell United Mega Corp’s sales portal system, then you are unlikely to get your article accepted – you can pay for advertising space for that. However if you work for “Incredible IT Systems” and write a piece on using pluggable database and mention “Incredible IT Systems” once or twice, or that you have experience in the field you can offer to customers, all is good. Other than that, we simply want well-written articles that will help people use a feature of Oracle, better understand some aspect of their Apps offerings or allow a compare & contrast across possible solutions. Basically, we want to publish things that UKOUG members and the wider Oracle community want to read.

Go on, think about it. Give it a go. And if you actually want to spend time with the relatives over Christmas, write a piece for one of the editions later in the year.

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Comments»

1. Oren Nakdimon (@DBoriented) - December 18, 2015

Hi Martin.
I’d like to add another aspect to the comparison you’ve made between presenting and publishing, and I’m interested in your point of view about it.
I’ve recently converted one of my 50-minute presentations into a 4-page article [published in Oracle Scene, of course 🙂 ].
The hardest part was to remove tons of things that I usually say and show in the presentation, in order to fit into the article limits. It made me choose the words and examples for the article very carefully – which is probably a good thing anyway – and I made quite a lot of rewrites. It reminded me of a similar experience, but in a different scale: the rephrasing I do when I try to tweet something meaningful in 140 characters.
I initially felt that the result was not good enough. In the presentation I talk in-depth about 8 new features of Oracle 12c. Even after compromising on only 7 out of the 8, I could not cover them in the article in the same level as in the presentation.
Then I realized that they are simply not the same. The article, in its limited size, can serve the purpose of introducing the new features, and should not try (in vain) to be a deep-level tutorial. To answer the deep-level needs I decided to write an “addendum” to the article – in the form of a blog post series. So if readers of the article find a specific feature that was introduced in the article interesting, they can “drill down” into the relevant detailed post. I believe it’s a good concept, but I have no idea if the readers think so too…
Thanks,
Oren.

mwidlake - December 21, 2015

Hi Oren,

I fully appreciate what you say about compressing a presentation down into an article. No one spends 45 minutes or an hour reading an article so there has to be some reduction in content. It is not quite as bad as it first seems though as when you (well, I) present, time is spent on introducing yourself, little gaps in delivery to aid the structure, silly asides (certainly the case with me) and repeating a point to ensure 95% of the audience have understood it. I also think people read faster than than most people present and you do not need to repeat stuff, people can re-read if they want.

But even with all that, you have to be far more efficient in what you say and you have to trim. It is an interesting challenge. I expanded my “oracle fundamental architecture in under an hour” talk into 3 articles, as it was so dense with information.

Addressing your final point, providing links to further details seems to me to be a good ideal. Something to be aware of though is journals may not like to have links away to other sources – especially if those sources are commercial web sites (which would not be the case with your or I) and may have a simple policy of “no links”.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

2. Phil Wilkins (Ace Associate) - January 14, 2016

Martin,

Great blog post about writing articles for UKOUG Scene.

I’ve been reviewing articles for Scene for sometime (as well as books for a couple of well known publishers). But I finally took on the challenge of crafting an article for Scene and the sense of pride in seeing it accepted and in print has been tremendous (probably a little annoying for my colleagues as I ‘promoted’ that issue of Scene). Would recommend it to anyone.

3. Another Oracle Scene in the pipeline | MP3Monster's Blog - January 15, 2016

[…] The sense of joy and reward in reviewing is easily beaten by submitting an article and seeing it published and feeling the published article in printed form.  Don’t just take my word for it – Martin Widlake writes about it on his blog here. […]

4. oraclebased (@oraclebased) - February 13, 2016

Useful Resource
{Deleted spam link}
step by step (blah blah advertising what skills they feel they have)

mwidlake - February 14, 2016

Uddin, please do not do that. Adding comments that are about the post or in response to other comments is great. Adding a comment only to advertise your site is spam. I’m actually surprised WordPress did not move this straight to the spam folder.

Spamming people’s blogs in this way will only annoy the people who own the blogs you are spamming, it will not increase your reputation (it will have the opposite effect) and won’t increase your web score.

If you want to enhance your reputation then I suggest you concentrate on creating content, as you have done on your original blog, and adding meaningful comments to posts. Only add a link back to your own stuff if it is highly relevant (and you still might find people delete your comment because of the link)


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