Minimalist docs

Subject: Minimalist docs
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Fri, 24 Jan 1997 13:36:16 -0600

The thing to remember is that "minimalist" doesn't mean
"small"... it means "as little as possible without
diminishing the reader's ability to comprehend". Since some
readers need more information than others, "minimalist"
almost never means "the smallest possible" amount of
information. Leo Rosten came up with an absolutely
marvelous example, done as a joke, which I revised in the
context of editing. Here's the condensed version:

Consider the sign "fresh fish for sale daily". Obviously,
the fish can't be fresh if you don't sell them daily... so
let's drop that bit. Now you wouldn't be advertising the
fish if they weren't for sale, and nobody would try to sell
stale, old fish... so let's drop "fresh" and "for sale"
too. That pretty much leaves us with one word: "fish". But
we're not done yet... surely anyone who walks past the
store will know (whether by sight or smell) that you're
selling fish. So let's drop that word too.

You can't get much more minimalist than that... no words at
all. Hmmm... did someone say "parable"?

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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