RE: Please describe value of Information Mapping

Subject: RE: Please describe value of Information Mapping
From: "Pinkham, Jim" <Jim -dot- Pinkham -at- voith -dot- com>
To: "Tim Mantyla" <TimMantyla -at- nustep -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2008 09:31:36 -0500

The results were good, Tim. Our customer was a Fortune 500 company
required to comply with EPA, DOT, and OSHA regs. They needed those
compliance requirements spelled out and broken down in a way that even
their lowest-rung hourly workers with no background in the regs could
unequivocally understand and follow. We gave them that, and they were
happy. Before we started, our whole team had roughly a week of training
in Chicago. The basic concepts can be grasped quickly. In all honesty,
we all struggled with applying them to regulations at first. Most of us
were fairly comfortable in two or three weeks of hands-on application.
Some were still struggling six months later, however.

To be clear: We did not use either Info Mapping software or Word to
produce our documentation. We simply applied Info Mapping techniques to
our work. The Info Mapping manuals we used in training, however, were
clear. The folks who wrote them practiced what they preached, and the
instructors, in particular, conveyed the underlying theory well.

I can't speak to the learning curve on the software, not having used it.
But, as noted above, a few days of training can give a firm foundation.
Then success and learning curve is, I'd suggest, tied to the willingness
and ability to think outside of the traditional narrative box and, to a
degree, to the complexity of the material with which you're interacting.
And, for that matter, how well (clearly and efficiently) that source
material was organized and presented.

Before being introduced to Information Mapping, I'd already had more
than a decade of experience as a newspaper reporter and editor and as a
staff writer and later managing editor of trade publications that dealt
with some of these same regulatory issues. The experience in accurate,
brief, clear writing helped immensely. The basic familiarity with the
regs helped, too.

Gauging the time is a bit harder, especially since it's now been more
than a decade again since I've used Info Mapping regularly. However, I'd
suggest that once a person is up to speed, the writing process is at
least as efficient as their old way of writing. And the time savings for
the end user can be substantial. The end product is distilled toward
just what they need to know and targeted with them, and their needs for
practical application, in mind. In our case, the source government regs
were not written under the same constraints :)



From: Tim Mantyla [mailto:TimMantyla -at- nustep -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, April 04, 2008 8:50 AM
To: Pinkham, Jim
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com; Yves Barbion
Subject: RE: Please describe value of Information Mapping

Sounds like the results were good. How did you like working with it,

Successes, problems, constraints, etc.?

Not sure I'm asking the right questions here, but here's a stab at it:
Does the software's output require much tweaking and editing, or is it
usually well organized? How much depends on the organization of the
original documents? What kind of input in terms of settings, parameters
and variables, or programming is required?

How effective, readable, usable is the Information Mapping software's

How long did it take you to grasp the principles vs. your self-rated (or
even as rated by supervisors) speed and ability to assimilate new
processes, techniques, concepts?

How successful at information mapping would a beginner be on his own,
after a few days of training, vs. using the software as well?

I'm looking at learning curve time vs. time saved for authors and



"Pinkham, Jim" <Jim -dot- Pinkham -at- voith -dot- com> wrote on 04/04/2008 09:16:43 AM:

> >>>>>>>>> Information Mapping is mainly used in a Word-based authoring
> environment. Because of its open-source nature, DITA is supported by
> the
> major authoring tools (FrameMaker, XMetal, Arbortext Editor, Syntext
> Serna,
> ...) and content management systems.<<<<
> One point I'd clarify: It seems more accurate to say that Information
> Mapping software is designed to work with Word. However, the process
> itself is by no means so narrowly constrained to that particular tool.
> For example, during my first exposure to Info Mapping, around 1994, we
> did all of our authoring in Interleaf and used Info Mapping techniques
> extensively to reduce complex government regulations to accessible,
> useful information for end users.
> Jim


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RE: Please describe value of Information Mapping: From: Pinkham, Jim
RE: Please describe value of Information Mapping: From: Tim Mantyla

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