Re: Information Mapping

Subject: Re: Information Mapping
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 1996 13:00:00 EST

At 12:54 PM 8/29/96 GMT, you wrote:
>In article <01BB9416 -dot- 0E33FCA0 -at- tina -dot- envision -dot- com>, Bill Bledsoe
><bill -at- envision -dot- com> wrote:

>> Brad,List,
>> You're a bit off in your take on Chunking in Info Mapping. It has little
>> to do with block labels, and transitions are some of the things that Info
>> Mapping eliminates. Chunking, according to my handy Info Map cheat sheets
>> is the following:
>> "The grouping of information into small, manageable units."
>> They further define a "manageable unit" as:
>> "one consisting of no more than nine pieces of information"
>> Their rationale is that research suggests people can best process and
>> remember no more than seven, plus or minus two pieces (or units) of
>> information at one time. They also note that as the complexity of the
>> information increases, the chunking limit decreases.
>> I have found this principle of Information Mapping probably the most useful
>> in my work. Therefore, I thought I'd make sure it is clear with everyone
>> in Techwr-L land.

>Yes, I agree: That is what chunking means in information mapping. My point
>is (if you read my post again): The "seven, plus or minus two pieces (or
>units)" cannot be quantified in documents. I'm not near my library right
>now, but later I'll post the reference for this magic number seven and
>demonstrate how it cannot be applied to information mapping the way it is
>being applied now. One thing to think about in the meantime: What
>constitutes a "piece of information?" A letter? A word? A phrase? A
>clause? A sentence? A paragraph?


>Brad Connatser
>Concurrent Communications
>cwrites -at- usit -dot- net

This is something that's bugged me about Info Mapping for years. The actual
research into 7 plus or minus 2 is in memory, and short-term memory at that.
Little research has been done in stepwise instructions, which are presumably
performed then promptly forgotten. I suspect that Horn has seized this
principle, which sounds so dreadfully scientific, and extrapolated it into
an inapplicable area. This returns us to the subject of what our documents
are used for, training or reference. In a reference work the 5-to-9 nonsense

My experience with Info Mapping suggests to me that it serves two purposes:
First, it makes passable writers out of dreadful ones, and second, it
provides a comforting sheen of uniformity and methodology to what many
companies think of as fuzzy-headed artistry.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
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