Re: Impressions of Information Mapping

Subject: Re: Impressions of Information Mapping
From: rjl -at- BOSTECH -dot- COM
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 1996 09:08:36 EST

Tom Tadfor Little said, about converting existing docs to the Information
Mapping format:

>there is a tendency to simply move conventional prose into the IM layout.
>Thus subsections become blocks...often hideously long blocks; maps span
>many pages, and so on. This kind of compromise makes the documents seem
>more familiar and demands less retraining of the authors, but it does
>throw out many of the potential benefits.

It seems as though one of the first things people forget is the key piece
of info they present in the first few minutes of the training: "Seven, plus
or minus two." I've seen the same thing that Tad has, in fact I've been
guilty of that type of thinking myself.

It's easy to mistake the Info Mapping page layout for the "system." What I
think we're -supposed- to do, in cases as Tom mentioned, is to then examine
this multi-page map and start asking "How can I break this down into a series
of chunks that work in the '7 +/-2' system?" For example, I might have a
procedure for installing a pump, and discover that this procedure runs 28
steps. But it -may- be possible to chunk the procedure into smaller

1) Prepare the pump for installation
2) Position the pump in the proper location
3) Attach lines, hoses, and power connections
4) Run diagnostics to insure pump works
5) Clean up/return equipment to operation.

That becomes the first map, there are then five subordinate maps that might
have five or six steps each. That falls within the '7 +/-2' design pattern,
and takes full advantage of the Info Mapping techniques.

It's harder for the tech writer, of course...but, hey, that's just one of
the challenges of the job.

Rick Lippincott
Boston Technology
Wakefield, MA
rjl -at- bostech -dot- com

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