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Rob Hanna: Leveraging Cognitive Science to Improve Topic- Based Authoring

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LavaCon Las Vegas 2016 Presentation

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Rob Hanna: Leveraging Cognitive Science to Improve Topic- Based Authoring

  1. 1. PLEASE FIND A PEN AND PAPER
  2. 2. LEVERAGING COGNITIVE SCIENCE TO IMPROVE TOPIC- BASED AUTHORING LavaCon 2016 Las Vegas, Nevada
  3. 3. EFFECTIVE TOPIC-BASED AUTHORING WITH DITA ▪ Information Typing is truly at the heart of DITA, yet it is one of the most poorly understood concepts behind creating effective DITA topics ▪ How DITA can naturally be extended to accommodate enterprise content? ▪ How can content be broken down and organized for better comprehension? ▪ How can we focus attention on greater precision with our content standards?
  4. 4. ROB HANNA ▪ President of Precision Content Authoring Solutions Inc. and a director of AIIM First Canadian Chapter ▪ Expert in structured authoring and content management practices and technology ▪ Instructor at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies – Metadata and Controlled Vocabularies
  5. 5. DO WE HAVE A PROBLEM THAT NEEDS SOLVING? ▪ 5,900,000,000 Google searches per day (who did we ask these questions of before Google?) ▪ 540,000 words in the English language – 5 times more than in Shakespeare’s time ▪ 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the last 2 years In the year … Human knowledge doubled every… 1900 100 years 1945 25 years 2014 13 months 2020 12 hours Did you know? Shift Happens 2014 Remix – YouTube.com
  6. 6. PUT INTO CONTEXT There is more information in a single issue of the New York Times than a 17th century citizen would ever see in their lifetime.
  7. 7. CAN COGNITIVE COMPUTING SAVE THE DAY? Perhaps …
  8. 8. CAN WATSON HELP ME USE MY CONSUMER DEVICES?
  9. 9. WISDOM OF CROWDS No problem!
  10. 10. WHAT ABOUT MASS SPECTROMETERS?
  11. 11. … NOT SO MUCH Much smaller crowd!
  12. 12. WE NEED STANDARDS ▪ We need INTELLIGENT CONTENT that is ▪ PORTABLE ACROSS SYSTEMS ▪ USEFUL ACROSS APPLICATIONS, and ▪ FINDABLE, USABLE, and REUSABLE
  13. 13. FOUNDATIONS IN XML A technology platform for Intelligent Content
  14. 14. XML IS EVERYWHERE XML defines meaningful data structures for documents and data. It is a human-readable file format used to power • manufacturing assembly lines • medical devices • military applications, and • many other things.
  15. 15. SEMANTIC MARKUP ▪ Using semantic markup, we can ▪ disambiguate content ▪ search based on meaning ▪ connect to other content, and ▪ reuse or substitute new text.
  16. 16. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DITA …
  17. 17. MEETING 2 SETS OF FUNDAMENTAL NEEDS The Human Brain Technology Find Understand Use, and Retain Integrate Search Process, and Reuse Well-structured content helps
  18. 18. ORGANIZING INFORMATION
  19. 19. LET’S PERFORM AN EXPERIMENT…
  20. 20. YOUR INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE EXPERIMENT 1. Put down your pen. 2. Concentrate on the list of 21 words for 20 seconds. 3. When the words disappear, pick up your pen and write down as many words as you can remember. 4. After one minute, count the number of words you wrote down.
  21. 21. EXPERIMENT #1: MEMORIZATION OTTOMAN brake lounge stapler seatbelt hutch alternator wardrobe calculators scissors ENGINE pedal dashboard pen tables marker tape stools starter ruler credenza How many words can you memorize in 20 seconds?
  22. 22. ottoman brake lounge stapler dashboard pen table marker seatbelt hutch alternator wardrobe pedalcalculator scissors engine tape stool starter ruler credenza COGNITIVE PRINCIPLE: CONSISTENCY 1. Filter out all of the noise
  23. 23. ottoman brake lounge stapler dashboard pen table marker seatbelt hutch alternator wardrobe pedalcalculator scissors engine tapestool starter ruler credenza COGNITIVE PRINCIPLE: CHUNKING 2. Break into smaller groupings
  24. 24. dashboardalternator pedal brake seatbeltengine starter marker staplerscissorstape pen calculatorruler ottoman lounge hutch credenza stooltablewardrobe COGNITIVE PRINCIPLE: RELEVANCE 3. Organize words by similarities
  25. 25. dashboardalternator pedal brake seatbeltengine starter marker staplerscissorstape pen calculatorruler ottoman hutch credenza stooltablewardrobe Furniture Office supplies Car parts COGNITIVE PRINCIPLE: LABELLING 4. Classify and label groups lounge
  26. 26. THE RESULT Furniture Office supplies Car parts automan stapler brake lounge calculator seatbelt hutch scissors dashboard wardrobe pen engine table marker alternator stool tape starter credenza ruler pedal How well did you do?
  27. 27. THE FOUR COGNITIVE PRINCIPLES 1. Consistency 2. Chunking 3. Relevance 4. Labeling
  28. 28. EXPERIMENT #2: LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN 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 Now how many words can you memorize in 20 seconds?
  29. 29. FEED THE BRAIN WHAT IT NEEDS WHEN IT NEEDS IT
  30. 30. LANGUAGE ARTS How do you want your information to be perceived?
  31. 31. LEFT AND RIGHT HEMISPHERES OF THE BRAIN Appealing to creativity or emotion versus logic Language Arts for Information (LAFI) Language Arts for Personal Response (LAFPR)
  32. 32. 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
  33. 33. IKEA INSTRUCTIONS: LAFI
  34. 34. 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
  35. 35. COMPARE Resume ▪ Information intended to be scanned ▪ Not addressed to anyone ▪ Parsed into HR database ▪ Distinct appearance Cover Letter ▪ Information intended to be read by the hiring manager ▪ Addressed to the hiring manager ▪ Placed in a file ▪ Looks like any other letter
  36. 36. INFORMATION TYPES What are they good for
  37. 37. DITA INFORMATION TYPES How do I change the spark plugs? What is a traction control system? What are my engine specifications? Concept Task Reference
  38. 38. TOPICS MODELLED BY FUNCTION ▪ Topic types are determined by the desired user response for the information ▪ Types are based on how users read, comprehend, and recall information ▪ REFERENCE topics are used when the reader needs to KNOW something ▪ TASK topics are used when the reader needs to DO something, and ▪ CONCEPT topics are used when the reader needs to UNDERSTAND something.
  39. 39. MAPPING HUMAN MEMORY FUNCTION • Procedural • Working • Semantic Budson and Price, 2005, New England Journal of Medicine
  40. 40. TASK TOPICS AND PROCEDURAL MEMORY ▪ Procedural memory is the most accessible and robust type of memory we have ▪ By separating task information from other types of information, we can make it easier and more efficient to comprehend and retain task information
  41. 41. REFERENCE TOPICS AND WORKING MEMORY ▪ Working memory is our short- term, rapid-access memory we use to hold facts as needed to complete a task or further understanding ▪ Reference topics are intended to organize and present information as and when the reader needs it
  42. 42. CONCEPT TOPICS AND SEMANTIC MEMORY ▪ Semantic memory is declarative memory used to store conceptual information that is not based on experience but from understanding ▪ Concept topics represent the highest cognitive loading for the brain as the reader is being asked to compare and evaluate information based on what the reader already knows
  43. 43. A NEW CONTENT STANDARD FOR THE ENTERPRISE Introducing Precision Content® It’s fun and anyone can do it!
  44. 44. CONTENT STANDARDS FOR THE ENTERPRISE ▪ OASIS - DITA Enterprise Business Documents Subcommittee ▪ Established in 2007 by Ann Rockley and Michael Boses ▪ To develop and recommend guidance for organizations that intend to adopt DITA for enterprise business documents. ▪ Wrapped up in 2012 ▪ The subcommittee examined several models for business documents ▪ One of the models examined was the Information Mapping® model developed by Robert Horn in the 1960s ▪ The subcommittee did not forward any formal proposals for adoption
  45. 45. FINDING BALANCE 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 Information Mapping® is… ▪ An agnostic structured authoring methodology for the enterprise ▪ A tested standard with global reach and decades of research ▪ Teachable to any audience or practitioner ▪ Lacking modern technology delivery framework
  46. 46. ENTER PRECISION CONTENT® ▪ The Precision Content methodology leverages the strengths of structured, topic-based authoring using XML technology for ▪ Broad-based content collaboration ▪ Robust content lifecycle management ▪ Content classification for rapid retrieval, and ▪ Multi-channel publishing.
  47. 47. A NEW WAY OF THINKING ABOUT CONTENT Precision Content® is like software for the brain Programmed Learning Instruction al Systems Design Human Factors Engineering Documentation Writing Research Message Design Cognitive Psychology
  48. 48. TOPICS AND BLOCKS ▪ Precision Content focuses writing at the block-level within topics ▪ The Primary Block supports the title of the topic ▪ Every block has an information type Task Topic Task title Task body Context Purpose Prerequisites Steps Post-requisites Result Primary Block Blocks REFERENCE PRINCIPLE TASK PRINCIPLE REFERENCE
  49. 49. STRUCTURED BUILDING BLOCKS OF INFORMATION
  50. 50. ADAPTED DITA TOPIC TYPES AND STRUCTURES ▪ Concept, task, and reference are simplified but essentially the same ▪ All topics are authored using blocks and titles ▪ New sub-blocks introduced ▪ Each block is assigned an information type
  51. 51. NEW PRECISION CONTENT TOPIC TYPES Process ▪ Specialized from Task ▪ Introduces ▪ Stages ▪ Actors, and ▪ Actions Principle ▪ Specialized from Topic ▪ Introduces ▪ Principle Statement ▪ Applicability ▪ Outcome, and ▪ Resolution
  52. 52. PRECISION CONTENT TYPES LISTED BY FUNCTION ▪ Reference ▪ DESCRIBES things the reader needs to KNOW ▪ Task ▪ INSTRUCTS the reader HOW TO DO things ▪ Concept ▪ EXPLAINS things the reader needs to UNDERSTAND ▪ Process ▪ DEMONSTRATES to the reader how things WORK, and ▪ Principle ▪ ADVISES the reader about what they need TO DO or NOT DO and WHEN.
  53. 53. INFORMATION TYPES Reference Principle Task Process Concept “We will be flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet.” “Always put on your oxygen mask before assisting other passengers.” “To open the emergency exit, look out the window, pull the lever, and push out the exit door.” “In the event of loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the overhead compartment.” “On the left side of the plane you can see a typical example of a cumulonimbus cloud.” Flight safety briefing
  54. 54. INFORMATION TYPE EXAMPLES If the goal of the information is to … Then use the information type … Reference Concept Principle Process Task Principle Reference Task • list the nutritional facts for Cherry Cola • explain what a soft drink is • warn you not to drop a Mentos in your Cola bottle • illustrate how Cola is bottled • instruct you on how to safely open your can of Cola • advise you on the best practices for recycling cans • tell the customer this week’s sale price for Cola • show you how you can turn your Cola can into a nifty craft project
  55. 55. INFORMATION TYPES INFORM WRITING STYLE ▪ How topics and blocks are titled ▪ Block and topic construction ▪ Proper voice and tense ▪ Specific authoring models ▪ Rules for primary blocks/short descriptions
  56. 56. WRITING RULES BASED ON TYPE Information Type Writing Style Writing Tense Reference 3rd person Present/past/future tense Process 3rd person Present tense Concept 3rd person Present tense Task 2nd person Present tense Principle 2nd person Present/future tense
  57. 57. WRITING EFFECTIVE TITLES FOR BLOCKS AND TOPICS ▪ Reference topic and block titles ▪ What is it about and what about what its about? ▪ “Bent or damaged needles” ▪ Concept topic and block titles ▪ The term being defined in plural form when possible ▪ “SSRI inhibitors” ▪ Task topic and block titles ▪ Command, 2nd person active-voice ▪ “Dress the wound” ▪ Process topic and block titles ▪ Activity described in gerund form ▪ “Admitting elderly patients” ▪ Principle topic and block titles ▪ Should convey the weight of the principle such as caution or guide ▪ “Danger due to needle stick”
  58. 58. DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK?
  59. 59. 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
  60. 60. SAME CONTENT AFTER APPLYING PRECISION CONTENT TECHNIQUES ▪ 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
  61. 61. LEARN MORE ▪ We’re giving away 2 seats to the next public training class in Sunnyvale, California ▪ Visit us at Booth #6 and drop your card to WIN

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