RE: What alternatives are there to "Information Mapping"?

Subject: RE: What alternatives are there to "Information Mapping"?
From: "Ed Nixon" <ed -dot- nixon -at- LynnParkPlace -dot- org>
To: <ian -dot- saunders -at- vf -dot- vodafone -dot- co -dot- uk>, "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 08:47:17 -0500

I've taken and applied the 'Writing Policy and Procedures' training from
Information Mapping. I found it a small revelation in the sense that I came
to the course with little formal training in technical writing but lots of
hard knocks experience in producing technical and business material.

And that probably highlights the method's strength: it is extremely useful
for, so-called, content experts who are not writers by job or training.
Consequently, it may have great potential in a company that is, either by
design or by neglect, 'democratizing' the content/document creation process.
It may also be useful in situations where the first cut of content is
generated by non-writer professionals and then passed on to technical
communicators and technicians for editing, collation and publication.

However, my personal experience, which is somewhat validated by the
responses to your query posted so far, is that Information Mapping is pretty
controversial among the professional tech writing crowd. As one respondent
says, the method is intuitive, obvious and common sensical. We all have
first hand experience with the notion that obvious ideas and techniques can
be denigrated by an in-group. For example, one colleague of mine recently
criticized Information Mapping because it promoted and charged money for
'what every competent technical communicator should be doing all the time.'

I think the business case for Information Mapping might be made via the
notion of standardization. To the extent that a significant number of people
are using a clear and consistent method for creating documents and are using
software that assists this task in a consistent way, the benefits of
efficient production and easy consumption can be large. This is the cost
effect thrust of the case studies that you can find on the Information
Mapping web site and which are used in seminars.

Of course saying your going to standardize methods of document creation and
formatting is one thing; actually getting it to happen is another.


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