To round off the “new starters” part of the team, I’m taking the plunge and introducing myself. I’ve actually into technology publishing from a background in philosophy. Obscure? Definitely. Useful? Without a doubt. If you want to ask me about it, or anything to do with digital publishing, you can find me on twitter as @camassey.
What’s your background?
I actually come from a background in technical publishing – I’ve been editing articles on Simple-Talk and SQLServerCentral for 3 years now. And when I’ve not been editing articles, I’ve been editing or proofing books covering everything from .NET performance testing to Exchange Server, XML Schema Design, and the SQL Server Query Optimizer. I built a few websites to help pay my way through college, but the less said about them, the better.
What are you working on at the moment?
Plugging myself into all the information being fired around the .NET Reflector team so that I can scoop it up, spruce it up, and serve it up for you all to see (apologies for the alliteration – I couldn’t resist). I’m also learning about the whole development story that .NET decompilation fits into, and I’ll hopefully be helping you get the most out of the enhancements we’re making (I almost guarantee that .NET Reflector can do things you don’t know about).
If you could make one change to the .NET Framework, what would it be?
I think I’d change the information surrounding the framework, rather than the engineering edifice itself. I’ve recently been doing a lot of work around .NET Memory Management, and I’m amazed at how murky the available information is. On the one hand, much of how the framework manages memory is shrouded in mystery and half-truths (partly born from hubris, after all, “it’s managed! Why worry?”). On the other hand, garbage collection is a phenomenal piece of software engineering which will adapt itself to different circumstances, such that you can say almost anything about .NET memory management, and it will be true at some point. I guess I just want there to be some officially sanctioned, clearly laid-out information about this topic, and why it’s useful (née important) for developers to know more about it.
What’s the most interesting / satisfying project you’ve worked on, and why?
To be honest, I can probably point to any one of the books I’ve worked on. Editing a book (Not to mention writing / proofing / typesetting / etc.) is a task you really have to immerse yourself in. You don’t necessarily have to understand everything about the technology, but you need to know enough to be able to make educated judgments about the material – that’s still a lot of learning! You won’t always agree with the author(s) or the technical reviewer, so you need to keep a cool head.
And then suddenly, 400 pages & 160,000 words later, you’ll emerge, blinking, into the light, to see a real, physical book that you helped create. That’s a pretty special feeling.
What do you do to relax?
I’m an enthusiastic (if tragically infrequent) gamer, so I’ll often be found on Steam or my Xbox. I’m also an avid reader, cyclist and dancer (not necessarily all at the same time), so any one of those is a likely candidate. Unless there’s a new episode of Dr. Who showing, in which case, don’t disturb me.
What’s your favorite book (technical and / or non-technical), and why?
Most of my technical reading is done online, but I’d say one of my favorite books is actually Jaap Wesselius’ Practical Guide to Exchange Server 2010. There are books with deeper content, or that teach skills which you’ll use more extensively, but the focus and structure of Jaap’s book are tight and direct. You can see precisely what you’re getting at every stage, and you can navigate the content incredibly easily (which, in my experience, is one of the big challenges faced by technical books).
My favorite non-technical book is either “The Player of Games” by Iain M. Banks (fast-paced yet insightful) or “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss (Excellent characterization, a good pace, plenty to keep you interested, but still a light read. I literally had trouble putting it down)
Do you have any advice / suggestions / questions for other Content Curators?
If you’re working with content creators (authors, video creators, whatever) be objective, analytical and positive with your feedback. They generally have a reason for everything they do, and you need to take the time to understand it. Objectivity is important because , as an editor, it’s all too easy to accidentally overwrite your author’s voice, and create an article / blog post / book that sounds like you. Just because you wouldn’t write it that way doesn’t mean it’s not OK. Be heavy-handed when it comes to the real meat of the content, but as light-fingered as possible when it comes to how it’s presented.