Documentation: Why Bother?  (part 4)

Part 4: Documentation as Perseverence 

Continuing our series looking at documentation in the Arts & Sciences through the lens of the virtues exemplified by our Society’s peerage orders, we will look now at one of the less commonly discussed virtues: perseverance.

In our Society, we’ve come to associate perseverance with the Order of Defence.  The members of that Order obviously display skill at arms and honor.  But, in recognition of the long history that led to the creation of the Order of Defence, its members are also seen as exemplifying perseverance – the persistence toward a goal despite difficulties and delays.  

All of us experience obstacles in our pursuits.  Since the focus of these posts is the Arts and Sciences within the SCA, we’ll focus on the kinds of obstacles that we can encounter in re-creating the skills, arts, combat, and culture of the pre-17th century world.  Sometimes we don’t know where to look for information on the things we’re trying to re-create.  Sometimes, we learn about a book or an item in a museum but we have no way to get to it.  Sometimes, we vaguely remember hearing about something but can’t quite remember the details.  

So, how does our documentation help with all this?    

I like to think of good notes and records as a gift to my future self.  When I am looking into something related to items that I’ve previously studied, I can go back to the notes I took and whatever formal documentation that I’ve written up to refresh my memory.  This prevents me from having to replicate work that I’ve already done.  You don’t have to start each project by re-inventing the wheel (unless your project is to re-invent a wheel!).  When I try to reproduce a historical artifact, I may try out several possible ways of doing something.  Keeping some record of which technique produced which results or which materials did or didn’t perform as I wanted is extremely helpful.  I have found the ability to keep building on what I’ve done previously has helped me keep pursuing the Arts & Sciences over many years.  

Not everyone wants to keep digging deeper and deeper into the same subjects.  But when you do, having the documentation from your previous efforts accessible is a tremendous help.  This is one way to cultivate a lifelong interest.  So, keep on doing what you’re doing.  And use the documentation from your previous work as a tool to move forward into new endeavors.  

– Abu-Darzin Ibrahim al-Rashid, Laureate

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