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Shvoong Home>Internet & Technology>Information mapping Review

Information mapping

Website Review   by:Lata_Singh    
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Information Mapping™ Information Mapping™ is a trademarked method to write and structure information.The method has been around for more than 25 years and is one of the major influences on technical writing. And though considered extraordinarily successful for handling information in large documentation settings, Information Mapping™ has not been without controversy and discontent, not in the least because of the trademark. Background on the method The Information Mapping approach dates back to 1965 when Robert E Horn, a psychologist at Columbia University, conducted research on how readers deal with large amounts of complex information. Building blocks Information Mapping™ consists of an integrated set of principles and techniques that enable authors to break complex information into its most basic elements and then present those elements optimally for readers, so they can quickly and easily scan and retrieve the information they need. Central point in the methodology is the information block. The block as the smallest unit of information Today, Robert Horn is often referred to as the man who kicked the paragraph out of writing. And indeed, one of the first things he realized during his research was that the paragraph is too fuzzily defined to be a solid unit of information, and he replaced it by the block. A block is a chunk of information:
• organized around a single subject,
• containing one clear purpose. A block is composed of one or more sentences, formula''s or figures, and is always identified by a clear label (title). Typically a block has no more than nine sentences. 7 principles for structuring information Information Mapping™ consists of a set of 7 principles to organize information effectively so that it is easy to access, understand, and remember. 1 chunking: group content into small manageable units; make information digestible, either for memorization or comprehension. 2 relevance: put together what belongs together, omit irrelevant information 3 labelling: give a meaningful label (title) to each chunk; labels show organization, 4 consistency: use the same labels, titles, formats and/or structures for the same subjects 5 integrated graphics: use illustrations, figures and tables as integrated part of the text 6 accessible detail: use details/illustrations/clarifications where needed; complete abstract presentations with concrete examples 7 hierarchy of chunking and labelling: organize an accessible structure for content chunks by grouping them into larger chunks and labelling them. Chunks without a hierarchy and label are difficult to find and understand. This principle calls for creating a structure to provide accessibility to the chunks. This structure gives users a chance to see the "bigger picture," but also access progressive layers of detail. 7 information types Information types categorize the subject matter. According to Information Mapping™, all information can be captured into 7 information types: 1 procedure: is a task or number of steps leading to a result (operational ''how-to'' level)
2 process: describes why a task/process is done (on a management level)
3 structure: describes the structure of a physical, material object (printer, form, machine, ...)
4 concept: describes an idea, a concept
5 principle: a policy, rule telling what is allowed and what not
6 fact: proposition without proof/argumentation
7 classification: sorting of chunks/units into classes Resources • http://www.infomap.com/ (Information Mapping™ world-wide headquarters)
• http://www.stanford.edu/~rhorn (Collection of papers on Structured Writing by Robert
Horn)
Published: November 15, 2007   
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