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Subject:RE: Please describe value of Information Mapping From:"Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com> To:"'David Hailey'" <david -dot- hailey -at- usu -dot- edu>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> Date:Fri, 11 Apr 2008 08:35:12 +1000
From: David Hailey
Sent: Friday, 11 April 2008 2:09 AM
David E. Hailey writes (in part):
I agree with most of what Michael says, but I must suggest that I can find
nothing in information mapping that encourages good discursive writing.
Rather, information mapping seems to me more about the structure in which
the material is formatted -- which is important. Structure, however, is not
writing, nor does it necessarily lead to good content.
David's welcome comments remind me that I neglected to acknowledge the
distinction between discursive writing generally and instructional and
procedural writing. The IM method is specifically focussed upon the latter.
I wouldn't argue with anything in David's post, but I have found that the
discipline implicit in IM -- analysing and identifying information types and
then choosing an appropriate "container" in which to present them -- is
indeed valuable for writers new to the game; if nothing else, to get them
As for the specific formatting practices (what I've referred to as
"containers") promulgated by the IM mob -- other than that large-scale
business of chunking, labelling, and so on -- I have never liked them.
Finally, a word about the value of IM (or similar approaches) for people who
are not professional writers: While "structure is not writing", as David
points out, the very idea that structure is an important consideration in
business and technical writing, and that there are underlying principles
common to all writing tasks, often strikes ordinary business people like a
bolt of lightning and leads to noticeable improvements (short-term at least)
in the quality of their written output. And that can't be a bad thing.
But as David reminds us, whatever IM's merits, it is very far from being the
only or the best source of instruction and inspiration for aspiring
technical writers. It's a three-day course, for pete's sake; good writing is
a life-long study.
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