The Purpose of Documentation

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Do I really have to do documentation?”

A reply from the Minister:

“No. You don’t have to do documentation.”

Did I surprise you? Did you expect me to say that you had to?

You don’t.

Really. If you never want to do documentation you never have to do documentation.

It’s okay.

I know all sorts of people who go through their entire SCA experience enjoying the arts and sciences and never attempting to document their work.

And you know what? They have lots of fun.

That’s my main goal for people. I want people to have fun within the arts and sciences.

But wait. Maybe I can surprise you again?

Documentation can actually be another part of the fun when you’re working within the arts and science. (I know! I was surprised too!)

Documentation has a bad reputation.

People first think that it has to be some kind of difficult and complex research paper. That it is like homework. That it needs to have footnotes or endnotes or an appendix or any number of things.

It’s true. Documentation can be all of those things. And some people really enjoy putting together an excellently written research paper.

You know what else documentation can be?

It can also just be you talking about how you went about your work. Or it can be when you write down notes about how you crafted a piece. Maybe it is the pictures of your work in process. Maybe it is the books or images or items that you took inspiration from to go about your art.

Documentation is all of those things too.

And that’s a big reason for why documenting your work can be fun. It’s your chance to tell your tale. It is your chance to tell the story of your creation.

And once you start putting that all together then you’re able to be a better teacher, too.

You’re not just talking about the “how” of something. You’re adding on the “what” the “when” and the “why” too. You’re helping others, and also yourself, know how something fits into the actual historical context of the time periods we are studying.

When those things start to “click”, and you’re about to share it with other people, then all of your arts and sciences can be really cool in an entirely different way.

Want help? Let the A&S Office know. We’re here for you.

The A&S office will be rolling out a class on how to research and complete documentation soon. We’ll make it available online by web conference, class notes, and in person. But that’s just a teaser. More to come! No details yet!!

And, if you’re willing to document your work, then that can also open up other opportunities for you, too.

Some competitions require documentation or heavily recommend it. Sometimes you need it in order to teach a class. Sometimes you need it in order to submit your research or artwork for publication.

You don’t have to do any of those things. But, if you want to take part in them, documentation gives you that opportunity.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,

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