Re: Hiring Question

Subject: Re: Hiring Question
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: Tony Markos <ajmarkos -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2005 15:25:10 -0500

Tony Markos wrote:


And what better way to organize the text than for the
writer to have a properly structured understanding of
the product. (No matter how organized the formatting,
if writer does not have an comprehensive, integrated
understanding of the product, the text is going to be
real disjointed.)

As Charles Horn (generally credited with having
"invented" structured writing) states on the
Infomapping web site: (structured) writing is really
all about [a proper product] analysis.


Well, I don't think many besides Charles Horn and you would claim that he invented structured writing. But, that quibble aside, let's talk about the assertion that organizing text has something to do with organizing formatting (whatever that means).

I think the disconnect between what you are saying, Tony, and what Sharon and others are saying is something like this: The structure of a product (a tree that starts at the whole product and then divides down into modules, components, parts, and adjustment tolerances, for example) may be useful for documenting the bill of materials or the assembly instructions. However, from the point of view of the user of the product, that structure is not necessarily meaningful.

A document may follow a tree structure in which the top node is "all tasks you can perform with this product" and it divides down into groups of tasks (accounting, logistics, order fulfillment) and then into individual tasks, steps, and options within steps. That may have nothing to do with the physical or virtual architecture of the product; it is nonetheless a structure that is meaningful to the user. Obviously there are other possible structures that may be more appropriate than this one, depending on the type of product and the purpose of the document. This is just one simple example.

Now suppose we start the analysis from the point of view of your favorite methodology, data flow. Again, that might be a great way to organize development documents, but I don't think I'd want to use that approach to instruct a user on the dashboard features or maintenance requirements of her new car. And yet I'm certainly going to apply a structure to the document, just not one that corresponds to the information flow within the car's control system.

Dick

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RE: Hiring Question: From: Tony Markos

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