Re: Request for help: classifying & presenting online documents

Subject: Re: Request for help: classifying & presenting online documents
From: Lori Lathrop <76620 -dot- 456 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 1995 11:58:47 EDT

In response to Judith Grobe Sachs (judygs -at- UIC -dot- EDU), who has questions
about indexing and classifying information ....

Since some of you are "displaced academics," I can understand your
tendency toward developing some sort of classification system. Actually,
the human mind has a natural affinity for classification schemes ... and,
unfortunately, academics seem to have an especially pronounced tendency
to categorize and over-classify information. :-)

The trouble with classification schemes is that what seems perfectly
logical to one person may be confusing to another. Another problem, which
you've already discovered, is that some terms and concepts "just don't
fit well" into the classification scheme, no matter how much effort you
put into developing it. BTW, that is a very common problem when you're
dealing with computer documentation. And still another problem with
classification schemes, especially for high-tech information that is
subject to change, is that you would have to constantly revise the
classifications just to keep up with the changes in technology.

So ... my advice to you is this: Squelch that tendency to over-classify
the information. Instead, focus on developing comprehensive indexes that
point readers to every "useful nugget" of information. If you don't have
indexing skills, find a professional indexer; if you like, I can recommend
someone in your area.

Another piece of advice: Buy _Indexing Books_ by Nancy Mulvany, published
by the University of Chicago Press. Also, read the section on indexing in
the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition. Although reading Nancy's book
and the indexing section in CMS won't automatically make you a great
indexer (only training and lots of practice can do that), you'll at least
have a better understanding of what's involved in creating an index.

Also, if you're interested in attending an indexing workshop in your area,
please let me know, and I'll let you know who to contact for more
information. In addition to delivering indexing workshops for corporate
clients, I also deliver indexing workshops for the American Society of
Indexers (ASI) and the Society for Technical Communication (STC). The
indexing workshops I'll be delivering in the next few weeks include:

10/04 - Chicago, for the STC Region 4 Annual Conference
10/13 - Oak Ridge, TN, for the Practical Conference on Communication
10/14 - Nashville, TN, for the Middle Tennessee Chapter of STC
10/21 - Indianapolis, for the Heartland Chapter of ASI
10/22 - Syracuse, NY, for the Western New York Chapter of ASI
11/18 - Washington, DC, for the DC-Metro Chapter of ASI

Lori Lathrop ----------> INTERNET:76620 -dot- 456 -at- compuserve -dot- com
Lathrop Media Services, P.O. Box 3065, Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Office: 303-567-4011 / Home: 303-567-9533

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