Most people know Geoffrey Chaucer as the author of The Canterbury Tales, a group of stories so naughty that schoolbooks still censor them now, over 600 years later. Many are surprised to learn that Geoffrey Chaucer also wrote one of the oldest surviving technical documents written in the English language.
More surprising still is the fact that this document, A Treatise on the Astrolabe, remains an example of excellent technical writing even by today’s standards. An astrolabe is an ancient instrument that helped astronomers study the stars, surveyors study the land, and sailors study the sea. In this session we’ll use Chaucer and his astrolabe to study the timeless elements of great technical communication.
Attendees will view advanced writing and editing skills through an ancient lens and emerge ready to produce concrete, concise, and cutting-edge documentation that’s just right for their audience.
About the Visiting Dojo Master
Brigid Brockway worked as a technical writer for DRB Systems, an industry leader in car care solutions, for nearly fifteen years. She has a BA in English from Ursuline College and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing: Nonfiction from Ashland University. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio and in “Every Pigeon” literary magazine.
Watch the Video
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Recorded: 2 November 2020
Resources and References
Links to books and resources Brigid mentioned during the session:
- Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" https://amzn.to/3kShV9Y
- William Zinsser "On Writing Well" https://amzn.to/3kSPfh5
- William Zinsser's website https://www.williamzinsserwriter.com
Lisa Melancon's tells us Chaucer wasn't the first tech writer: http://tek-ritr.com/its-more-than-chaucer/
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