Structured Thinking: Authoring for Precision Content

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Presented at STC Summit in Phoenix, AZ and Toronto, ON.
Precision Content offers a holistic approach to content strategy developed by Ascan Information Architects Limited.

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Structured Thinking: Authoring for Precision Content

  1. 1. Structured Thinking: Authoring for Precision Content™
  2. 2. Presenter – Rob Hanna, CIP IMCC • Director/Chief Information Architect – Ascan • 2014 Fellow – Society for Technical Communication (STC) • 2013 Information Mapping Certified Consultant (IMCC) • 2011 Certified Information Professional (CIP) • 20 years experience in technical communication • Expert in structured authoring and content management • Specialist in taxonomy design and DITA/XML architecture http://www.linkedin.com/in/singlesourceror
  3. 3. 2014 Precision Content™ Roadshow • Rochester, NY - April 13-14 • Toronto, ON - April 16 • Seattle, WA - April 27-30 • San Francisco, CA - May 8-9 • Phoenix, AZ - May 18-21 • Washington DC – June 9-10 • Chicago, IL - TBD
  4. 4. As Information Architects, we make information easier to use by… • Analyzing your • Information assets • Business drivers, and • End-user needs • Building solutions that organize complex information • Optimizing information for • Usability • Utility, and • Maintainability
  5. 5. Intelligent Content • Content that is • not limited to one • purpose • technology, or • output • structurally rich and semantically aware, making it • discoverable • reusable • reconfigurable, and • adaptable.
  6. 6. The content challenge Employee churn will be largest contributor to information gaps within the next 5 years. Managers spend 17% of their time (6 weeks a year) searching for information A single issue of the daily New York Times contains more information than a 17th century man or woman would have encountered in a lifetime Structuring and standardizing information is a “hot” issue due to increased corporate governance, accountability, regulatory controls and compliance demands. Knowledge gaps effect productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness
  7. 7. STOP THE INSANITY! Stop throwing more technology at your content problems! Content problems require content solutions!
  8. 8. Precision Content™ • A holistic approach to content strategy helping to manage your investment in content transformation • Includes elements of • utility • usability, and • maintainability PrecisionContent™trademarkAscanInformationArchitectsLimited2013
  9. 9. DITA/XML is… • An agnostic structured framework for technical communication • An open standard gaining rapid adoption • Extensible across industries • Lacking a consistent, robust authoring methodology
  10. 10. Information Mapping® is… • An agnostic structured authoring methodology for business • A proprietary standard with global reach • Teachable to any audience of practitioner • Lacking modern technology delivery framework
  11. 11. Together… • DITA provides the framework • Information Mapping provides the methodology • Together they facilitate content that is more focused and agile – Precision Content
  12. 12. Infomation Mapping® • Robert Horn • Stanford University scholar • 50 years’ of experience
  13. 13. A New Way of Thinking • Information Mapping is software for the brain Message Design Human Factors Engineering Programmed Learning Documentation Writing Research Cognitive Psychology Instructional Systems Design
  14. 14. Language Arts Language Arts for Personal Response (LAFPR) • To emotionally engage the reader • Techniques: • narrative style • varied vocabulary & sentence structure • withholding information • Writer driven • Meant to be READ Language Arts for Information (LAFI) • To convey information that readers need to use • Techniques: • consistent modular structure • concise, direct vocabulary • use of graphics • Reader driven • Meant to be USED
  15. 15. Ikea Instructions: LAFI
  16. 16. Ikea Instructions: LAFPR • If novelist Michael Ondaatje wrote Ikea instructions …. “The eel-shaped talisman squirms inside the raspy recycled box. A series of quarter turns – clock hands marking time – bonds back to base. An alphabet of connections in English and French. A into groove B. C slots into D. Chipboard credenza communicating Swedish hegemony.” • Author/parodist: Geoff Thomas Globe & Mail, August 27, 2009
  17. 17. Information types How do I change a tire? How does the engine work? Should I drive on the left or on the right in the UK? What is an airbag? What are the parts of my dashboard? What’s the maximum speed of this car? PROCEDURE PROCESS PRINCIPLE CONCEPT STRUCTURE FACT
  18. 18. Standardized blocks of Information...
  19. 19. ...are assembled into information products
  20. 20. ...and reassembled for different contexts
  21. 21. Example
  22. 22. Beware of the iceberg! Presentation Analysis & Organization
  23. 23. 6 research-based principles CHUNKING RELEVANCE LABELING CONSISTENCY INTEGRATED GRAPHICS ACCESSIBLE DETAIL
  24. 24. Exercise • How many words on the next slide can you memorize in 20 seconds?
  25. 25. How many words can you memorize in 20 seconds? analyst brake market stapler seat traders alternator investor calculators scissors engine pedal dashboard pen backers marker tape profit starter ruler prospects
  26. 26. The consistency principle Correct for consistent use of • words and phrases • parallel construction • effective reuse
  27. 27. After consistency analyst brake market stapler seat trader alternator investor calculator scissors engine pedal dashboard pen backer marker tape profit starter ruler prospect
  28. 28. The chunking principle Group information into small, manageable units
  29. 29. After chunking • market, scissors, analyst, brake, engine, starter, trader • pedal, ruler, seat, dashboard, backer, investor, pen • stapler, alternator, profit, prospect, calculator, marker, tape
  30. 30. The relevance principle Limit each unit of information to one • topic • purpose, or • idea
  31. 31. After relevance • analyst, market, trader, investor, backer, profit, prospect • stapler, calculator, scissors, pen, marker, tape, ruler • brake, clutch, gasket, engine, alternator, starter, pedal
  32. 32. The labeling principle Label each unit of information
  33. 33. After labeling Stock market • analyst, market, trader, investor, backer, profit, prospect Office supplies • stapler, calculator, scissors, pen, marker, tape, ruler Car parts • brake, clutch, gasket, engine, alternator, starter, pedal
  34. 34. The integrated graphics principle Use simple graphics to present information
  35. 35. After integrated graphics Stock market Office supplies Car parts analyst stapler brake market calculator seat trader scissors dashboard investor pen engine backer marker alternator profit tape starter prospect ruler pedal
  36. 36. Let’s try it again ... How many words on the next slide can you memorize in 20 seconds?
  37. 37. Now... how many can you memorize? Vegetables Computer parts Instruments peas hard drive violin endive sound card harp carrots monitor piano spinach mouse trumpet celery processor cello broccoli flash drive flute tomato keyboard guitar
  38. 38. Proven results RETRIEVAL ACCURACY INITIAL LEARNING +32% +38% +83% USAGE -90% -54% -50% SUPERVISOR QUESTIONS ERROR RATES READING TIME
  39. 39. Excerpt from a medical journal... • pN3 description only closely mirrors descriptions for pN3a +pN3b + pN3c • Use of footnotes confusing • “Clinically detected” and “Not clinically detected” are not exact opposites, and • Inconsistent enumeration of lymph nodes
  40. 40. Same content after Information Mapping® • 44.2% reduction in word count • 20% reduction in passive voice • 18.4% increase in Flesch Reading Ease score • 30% increase in white space • Elimination of footnotes, and • Addition of labels and visual elements
  41. 41. Side-by-side comparison Before After
  42. 42. Mapped Content Mapped information meets 2 fundamental needs • Mapped information serves the needs of the human brain to • find • understand • use, and • retain information. • Mapped information serves the needs of technology to manage information that • has a standard structure • is searchable, and • reusable.
  43. 43. Circling back to DITA • DITA Information Types • Concept • Task • Reference, and • None of the above (topic)
  44. 44. How do they relate? Information Mapping Types • Concept • Fact • Structure • Procedure • Process • Principle DITA/XML Information Types • Concept • Reference • Reference • Task • Task • Topic
  45. 45. For more information, contact Rob Hanna Chief Information Architect +1 (416) 723-4138 rob@infoarchitects.ca Ascan Information Architects Limited 29-7340 Copenhagen Rd Mississauga, ON Canada L5N 2S5 www.infoarchitects.ca

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