Dell: Tell us about yourself and what you are doing?

Anne Gentle: I'm Anne Gentle, I work at Rackspace and I like to think of the title, Content Stacker, which basically means that I work on the documentation for OpenStack, I try to maintain that and keep it going with volunteers.

Q: How can someone become a volunteer?

A: We have active technical contributors in Openstack. OpenStack is open source cloud computing, so we are trying to build this massive structure of projects and OpenStack documentation and we invite people to submit a patch just like code. It is an interesting way of doing documentation, I am really interested in collaborative documentation.  I've been a tech-writer for a lot of years now, but I have always been drawn to new methods, new techniques, new processes. The one I am really interested in right now is collaborative authoring and authoring out on the social web where people have expectations for content nowadays that you should be able to interact with it, you should be able to comment on it, and most likely you probably want to edit it, too. That's what we do with OpenStack docs, they are open source all the way down to the fonts that they are published, and anybody can contribute.

Q: You just recently published a book, can you tell us a little bit about that?

A: One of the most interesting techniques that I found in open source documentation is something called a Book Sprint. You gather together a group of collaborators and we run in a Book Sprint facilitator Adam Hyde who has been doing about 55 of these. I have participated with Adam on about three Book Sprints and so I knew that I wanted him to facilitate because I had seen him succeed. I also had a core group of people who are operating OpenStack clouds who could also write; great combo right? We put together a proposal and the OpenStack Foundation funded us to buy plane tickets for guys from Canada, Australia, from across the USA and to come together in Austin, Texas. We wrote the operation guide in five days as a collaborative group. It was amazing. What that really means is that we had an outline going in but that doesn’t mean we stuck to that outline right away but these guys knew each other and we had talked a lot beforehand about what we wanted the book to be, who we wanted to write for, what we expected out of it in the end, so we really wrote for three days, maybe three and a half and edited for a day and a half and had a book.

Q: Where can you get that book?

A: You go to, it's the ops guide and you can actually purchase a dead-tree copy from  It should actually ironically also be out on Amazon soon.

Q: Thank you very much, Anne.

A: Thank you!


Twitter @annegentle

Anne’s Blog JustWriteClick

Anne at OpenStack