RE: Structure vs. Substance?

Subject: RE: Structure vs. Substance?
From: Stephen Arrants <sarrants -at- roidirect -dot- com>
To: 'Tracy Boyington' <tracy_boyington -at- okvotech -dot- org>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 14:51:02 -0700

Tracy Boyington [mailto:tracy_boyington -at- okvotech -dot- org] wrote:
> Subject: Re: Structure vs. Substance?
> Tim Altom wrote:

> > You're right, and oddly enough that structure would be
> sufficient for a
> > small project. A better approach, with still a high level
> of abstraction,
> > might be:
> >
> > I. Assembly
> > A. Assembly of unit
> > 1. Steps
> > 2. Reference information
> But Tim, this has content. Not much content, and really only
> a description of
> what the content will be, but in order to get this far you
> already know that you
> are writing about an object that is assembled and operated
> and has controls.

No Tracy, this is metacontent, not true content. Data or a description about
content, not content itself.

Look. Everyone is going around in circles here. If I tell you I need you
to write a User Guide for an eCommerce application, used by Customer Service
Reps with average computer skills, is what I've told you content? If I ask
you for, say, a 10-point outline for the document, is what you're returning
to me content or structure? or both? You already know how to put together a
document. The outline you return isn't content, but a description of the
content. Is it content, though? Somewhat. Is it structure? I'd say yes.

>I think it's very easy
> to become so
> familiar with your own type of content that you even don't
> notice it's there.

Yes. And the folks arguing that structure isn't all that necessary aren't
seeing that the structure is almost second nature, wired somewhere in their
brains. The structure has to be there somewhere, or else why not just ship
an OED with a product and tell the users "All the words that describe the
product are in that book."?

steve arrants

Stephen Arrants
Manager of Technical Communications


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