Re: Information Mapping

Subject: Re: Information Mapping
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 1996 14:37:00 EST

At 01:15 PM 8/29/96 -0500, you wrote:

<snipped fury about methodology, but see sample below>

>To pick on Information Mapping, via criticizing only one of the 7
>principles, is really not fair to the methodology, and really pretty
>anti-productive. For example, Chunking depends upon Relevance, which
>"glues" chunks together into usable, manageable units of information.

A peeve I have about Info Mapping is that it generates just such nonsensical
exchanges, because it focuses debate not on the user or the subject, but on
Horn's concepts of chunking, blocks, and so forth. These concepts are
embodied in every form of good tech doc, but Horn insists that it be
codified. He has to insist. Otherwise he doesn't have a product. The result
is that True Believers trade shots with True Skeptics rather than asking if
the concepts serve the end. Info Mapping, like any other rigid methodology,
contains the danger of giving so much attention to the map that you lose
sight of the road. I've used the methodology, but rarely. It seems to be
most popular in large companies. Good tech doc'ers use the concepts
intuitively anyway, although the end product doesn't have the familiar
Horn-blessed formatting. I find Info Mapping restrictive, dull, repetitive,
unimaginative, and bland. It's most acceptable for references and short
task-driven sections. For longer, content-driven or training materials, it's
horrific. I've pointed out to people many times that if the methodology was
the answer to every reader's prayer that we'd all be reading third-party
computer books in good Info Mapping style. We don't, because it's horrible
to read. But that's a question of usability, not of adherence to the style.

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

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