Re: Minimalist docs

Subject: Re: Minimalist docs
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 24 Jan 1997 13:48:22 -0800

At 01:36 PM 1/24/97 -0600, geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA wrote:
> 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.

Right on, Geoff! We also need to remember that minimalism
was conceived as an instructional design approach. When
we attempt to use it as a documentation approach, we must
bend the "rules" somewhat to adapt the philosophy to the
new purpose. Certainly, the "smallest possible" amount of
information for an introductory training class is not the
same as the "smallest possible" amount of information for
a reference manual.

> 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:

[snip a good one!]

Yes, and I have a Wiley Non Sequitor cartoon entitled "Why
Minimalists never make the best seller list" which shows an
author writing "The Comprehensive Guide to Health and Physical
Fitness", the entire text of which is "Eat less. Exercise more."

I was out cruising the other day and tripped across a very
interesting document at U Glasgow on the problems with minimalism.
The author (Stephen W. Draper) delves into the problems that
arise when you try to separate learning from doing, etc. Well
worth the trip; here's the URL:

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
-- The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.

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