Re: Please describe value of Information Mapping

Subject: Re: Please describe value of Information Mapping
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2008 22:29:05 +1000

The Information Mapping body of doctrine is little more than a moderately
successful attempt to codify principals of good discursive writing as they
have been known and practised by teachers, trainers and instructional and
technical writers for centuries.

I recommend that any professional writers whose work touches on technical
and instructional writing familiarise themselves with the Information
Mapping method. I do so for the following reasons.

1. IM provides a lexicon of terms ("chunking", "labelling", etc) that
facilitates discussion among teams of writers.

2. The information "types" identified by IM are very useful categories. In
my thirty+ years of technical writing I have more often than not been
dismayed by the inability of people who claim to be "tech writers" to
understand the difference (for example) between process and procedure, or
between structure and concept. Without that understanding, a writer will
invariably fail to accomplish what he or she is paid to accomplish.

This is more than lip service. I have managed teams of writers, and I have
happily sent them off for three days to learn the techniques.

However, any IM instructor who claims that the method must only be used in
its "pure" form is a half-wit.

Why these methodologies so easily become religions rather than toolsets
baffles me. I can only guess that people without the intellectual tools to
work things out for themselves fall upon evangelism as a crutch.

So DO learn the IM method. And then think critically about how it can best
be applied to the communication problems you are paid to solve.

Mike West


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