Information Mapping - Love it/Hate it - An Explanation

Subject: Information Mapping - Love it/Hate it - An Explanation
From: Yvonne Harrison <yvonne -at- IHUG -dot- CO -dot- NZ>
Date: Thu, 5 Sep 1996 18:05:08 +1300

Hi all -

I've just joined this list but I've noticed a bit of confusion about IM and
thought I might share my experiences of the methodology. I've been using it
for about three years now for a wide range of manuals including for a bank, a
pathology department and a R&D division. I've also just been involved in a
project where it was utilised for on-line work.

First off the chunking debate. The rule for IM is 7 +/- 2. That is the
chunks of information can be from 5 to 9. But it's a rule made to be
broken. If you've got a 20 step procedure you're obviously violating the
system but hey if it's 10 - 12 steps long... weelllll - as long as it works.
IM is a great methodology for writing but don't drive yourself nuts trying
to follow it exactly. For instance, sometimes I have maps that are well...
not really anything. Not one of the seven anyway. They're pages of
information. I certainly don't spend hours going 'oh God,it's a fact map so
I have to do this!'

What IM is great for is a team writing situation. Because IM gives every one
a common language and a set of rules that everyone knows and follows. I
don't have to spend long hours at the start of a project thinking about
formatting, margins, fonts or anything else. An IM writer can walk into a
team of writers using IM and be able to contribute straight away. The writer
doesn't have to spend any time learning the background to the project such as
the style or format. Also if I talk to my writers about maps, blocks,
procedures or processes we're all on the same wavelength. So there's no
confusion in a team. Starting up a project that requires a team of writers
is a time consuming task that can take weeks if all the formatting and style
decisions also need to be made. IM puts that time to zero.

Many people look at the methodology simply from a reading/writing view but
there are a few hidden advantages to IM that make real savings on the project
management side of things.

Yvonne :-)

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