Re: What is a document?

Subject: Re: What is a document?
From: Mark Baker <mbaker -at- OMNIMARK -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 11:02:13 -0500

Jeroen Hendrix wrote

> Document: A medium and the data recorded on it for human use. By
>extension, any record that has permanence and can be read by man or
>To me, this definition is unworkable. ... Can
>anyone out there think of a better definition? Or tell me what you use in
>your workplace?

In my IPCC 96 paper, "The Document is Dead" I defined document as follows:

A document is a substantial bound collection of static linear information
generalized for many users over an extended period.

This is a cultural definition. My contention was that his is how we are
taught to write even though the technological constraints that shapped the
document (paper, the printing press) no longer constrain us online.

Notice that both definitions include permanence as a defining
characteristic. This excludes dynamically generated web pages from the
definition of document. Is that appropriate for a QA context? I tend to use
"information product" as a broader term than document. (Is that little slip
of paper you get from a bank machine a "document"?)

There aren't enough words around for us to give any one of them a single
universal definition. All definitions are contextual. The question you need
to ask is what definition is appropriate to your context.

Mark Baker
Manager, Technical Communication
OmniMark Technologies Corporation
1400 Blair Place
Gloucester, Ontario
Canada, K1J 9B8
Phone: 613-745-4242
Fax: 613-745-5560
Email mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com

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