Information mapping & Author-developers

Subject: Information mapping & Author-developers
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Thu, 1 May 1997 09:02:47 -0500

John Wilcox wondered <<Weyerhaeuser has recently adopted
Information Mapping as a corporate Best Practice. Have any
of you used it?>>

Haven't used it, but the underlying concepts seem robust.
The main problem with infomapping, based on what I've read,
is the hammer fallacy: "if all you have is a hammer,
everything looks like a nail". Blanket solutions, including
infomapping, _never_ work in all cases, so be prepared to
customize. Most importantly, try to understand the
principles behind infomapping so you'll know where they
apply, where they don't apply, and where you need to extend
them based on your own common sense. This follows another
aphorism: "Give someone a fish and they'll eat for one day;
teach them how to fish and they'll never go hungry."

<<Have any of you ever encountered a developer who wanted
to take over the documentation? ...Basically, it looks like
I might have to teach developers the idiosyncrasies of
publishing, with Word no less!>>

Sounds like the traditional recipe for disaster, if you ask
me. I definitely _won't_ start the "engineers (developers,
foresters, etc. etc.) make lousy writers" thread again,
because it's offensive, an overgeneralisation, and
irrelevant. What's far more important is that maybe 1 in
100 engineers write as well as they engineer, and the ones
who write _better_ than they engineer usually become
techwhirlers after a while. (General rule of human skills:
Each of us is very good at something, less good at several
other things, and downright awful at something else.) That
being the case, use them for what they're best at doing:

Given the hell that the forest industry has gone through
the past decade, I seriously doubt your developers are
underemployed... more likely, they're barely able to keep
up with their workload. That being the case, why add duties
that will take them away from doing the work they were
hired to do? Also note the training costs: I've seen
courses that range from $100 to $200 per day for basic Word
training. How much is this actually going to cost? How
about ongoing support costs? A very big, very squirmy can
of worms to open...

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

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