Online Tutorial report: SIOT14

Online tutorial SIOT14 took place Nov-Dec 2009 and was led by Jane Read. The text comprised several sections of a booklet about Concorde produced to commemorate the 40th  anniversary of the first flight of the British prototype. The sections were written by different authors, with different writing styles, and dealt with different aspects of the subject ranging from the highly technical to the anecdotal.

In the discussion part of the tutorial we considered such things as the use of subheadings, cross-references and double entry, and also when and how to index names. We discussed choice of terms for areas such as safety, financial considerations and structure and maintenance of the aircraft, which appeared in several  sections with authors using slightly different terminology. We also looked at whether and how we should index abstract concepts such as pride in achievement, and fondness (of Concorde), both apparent throughout the text, but not explicitly mentioned.

The text was quite challenging, and most of us felt that we needed to do some background research – even if we didn’t actually do it!  Some of us also felt it served as a warning not to take on jobs that demand more technical expertise than we actually possess!

The whole tutorial was conducted in a spirit of sharing and co-operation. Jane encouraged us to look critically at our own indexes, taking into account each other’s contributions and comments. She stressed that there is no definitive “right” end product,  but there are factors which need taking into consideration such as size of the index, wants and needs of the target readership, and the need for consistency.

I’m not sure the Royal Aeronautical Society would hand over hard cash for our efforts, but as an exercise I found it immensely useful, stimulating and thought-provoking, and it has reminded me again that I am doing this course because I enjoy the process of indexing.

Pat Wormald