Re: Information Mapping

Subject: Re: Information Mapping
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 15:58:49 PDT

Brad Connatser writes:

>I cannot understand I guess how you can say that "seven plus or minus two
>cannot be quantified in documents" when I do it all the time. We group all
>tasks in procedures so that they do not exceed 9 steps. If we have a
>procedure with more than 9 steps, we feel we have not done our job to break
>up the job tasks into manageable groups. We use the 9-step threshold as
>our "bell" to signify we need to rexamine what's going on.

Are you really saying that a step-by-step procedure should have more
than nine steps? Why? Only things which the reader is expected
to memorize fall into the seven-plus-or-minus-whatever rule. A person
who is following a procedure by reading one step, performing it, and
reading the next step never invokes this rule. It's not important
that he doesn't remember the details of what he did fourteen steps
ago: it's written down in the manual that he's working from.

And for a procedure that a user is supposed to have in his head before
starting, nine steps is too many: seven-plus-or-minus-whatever is smaller
than nine for at least half the population.

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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