RE: Minimalism since 2000

Subject: RE: Minimalism since 2000
From: "Janoff, Steve" <Steve -dot- Janoff2 -at- Teradata -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 2009 13:55:20 -0400

Thank you, Robert!

This web page alone is worth gold. I don't know why I didn't think to look it up, but I didn't. I'll review that 2005 paper. Also, the "Ten Misconceptions" paper is great -- it's in the follow-up book -- and very handy to have at hand. Plus, there are a lot of additional items to read on that web page, all of which are related in some way to documentation, usability, user-centered design, HCI, etc.

Chris's reply, although humorous, is actually poignant. It's not that there's nothing left to be written on this subject (the irony is not lost:). In fact, in Carroll's follow-up book from 1998 ("Minimalism Beyond the Nurnberg Funnel"), the final chapter presents ideas for pushing the research further. It appears as though nobody has taken up these authors on additional research, other than Carroll himself (and colleagues). Or, perhaps the same champions of Minimalism who were represented in the earlier works are still doing their studies in the field, just not publishing much about them. Or, perhaps they've moved on.

I'm astounded that such a topic hasn't been discussed more either on Techwr-l or in the industry in general, aside from the one workshop I see advertised.

I've been searching through the Techwr-l archives, month by month, and I'm back to late 2002. In early 2005, another writer asked a very similar question, and was actually doing academic research and found the same dearth of papers post-1999. One writer responded that she was an avid user of minimalist principles, and applied it to her daily work in documentation. That was about it. (We'll discount the brief thread somewhere in 2006 where a writer asked about sources for Minimalism, and one person responded that he should search through Google -- notwithstanding Google's value, that responder presented links to informal sources that were not necessarily reliable. It's much more useful in this case, I believe, to investigate the formal published research -- articles and books. Although that can sometimes be suspect, maybe with the author having an agenda, the informal sources tend to be "repurposing" of the original ideas presented back in the 80's and 90's -- no pushing the boundaries.)

I'm back to late 2002, where there was a substantial thread on someone's review and critique of the one Minimalism workshop. I'm looking forward to reading that, and digging back even further.

For what it's worth, I'm beginning to apply Minimalism on my own projects, specifically online help for a web application (the content is also repurposed in PDF form). I find the subject fascinating, and the writing is MUCH improved. I think it's a boon, and a cost savings. I can't imagine anybody NOT responding to Minimalism positively, unless they're approaching it with fear, or concern that their expertise as a Technical Writer could be compromised. People wanting to protect their career don't want to admit being "novices" at anything, but this approach -- although practical in some way -- stifles learning and, paradoxically, career growth. I can only see good things coming out of the study, and application, of Minimalism. But of course, that's a personal view.

And as you can see, I am not much of a Minimalist writer when it comes to posting on mailing lists. :/

Thanks again, Robert -- and Chris, for a comment that was actually more telling than it would appear on the surface.

Best wishes,

Steve

PS - If anybody wants to discuss this topic further, either online or offline, I'd love to hear from you! Thanks.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+steve -dot- janoff2=teradata -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+steve -dot- janoff2=teradata -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Robert Lauriston
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 8:39 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Minimalism since 2000

Carroll's publications list has one paper from 2005.

http://cscl.ist.psu.edu/public/users/jcarroll/Self/PapersOnline

On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 5:12 PM, Janoff, Steve<Steve -dot- Janoff2 -at- teradata -dot- com> wrote:
> Hi,
>
> Newbie to the list, apologies if I'm violating posting principles or
> this has been asked before (I'm guessing it has). :/  Search of the
> site doesn't bring up much.
>
> I'm currently researching Minimalism, am reading the books by John M.
> Carroll ("The Nurnberg Funnel" and "Minimalism Beyond the Nurnberg
> Funnel"), and subsequent research sort of has everything coming to a
> grinding halt around 1999-ish.
>
> Have there been any really important articles or works on this topic
> from 2000 on?  If so, I'm missing them. ...
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.
http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control! http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.
http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control! http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Minimalism since 2000: From: Janoff, Steve
Re: Minimalism since 2000: From: Robert Lauriston

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