Characteristics of EPPO Topics: Establish Context

This post is the third in my series on the characteristics of Every Page is Page One topics, which I introduced in Every Page is Page One Topics are Everywhere, and continued in topics on the properties  standalone and specific limited purpose.

This series is not a attempt at designing something new; it is an investigation into the properties of the millions of page-one topics that already exist, and that are being created everyday. At this point a reader might fairly ask why such a study is necessary, and the simple answer is that while technical writers in large numbers have come to embrace topic-based writing in principle, many still struggle to create topics that really work, and in many cases they quickly retreat to some form of book-like heirarchy of information. read more

Three Components of Writing Skill?

Tom Johnson recently blogged on What Does It Mean to Know How to Write? Protesting the notion that “everyone can write”, Tom proposed a linear scale of increasing writing skill. Lively discussion followed and Ellis Pratt responded with a blog post Assessing writing skills – a response to “What Does It Mean to Know How to Write?” which proposed that writing skills might be plotted on a two dimensional grid. Ever one to jump on a trend, I am going to propose a three dimensional model. No doubt a proposal in four dimensions can’t be far behind, but for now… read more

Characteristics of EPPO topics: specific limited purpose

This post is the second in my series on the characteristics of Every Page is Page One topics, an inquiry into the common characteristics of the millions of page-one topics that already exist. The first post in this series covered the standalone property. This post covers the closely-related property that an page-one topic has a specific limited purpose.

In the previous post, I introduced a distinction between a topic dependency and a reader dependency. A reader dependency is one the reader brings to the material — some wider purpose or some lack of background information or relevant data. A topic dependency is something the topic needs to fulfill its purpose for every reader. In order to tell a reader dependency from a topic dependency, you need to know what the purpose of the topic is. read more

Characteristics of EPPO topics : standalone

Last month I wrote that Every Page is Page One Topics are Everywhere, and I listed the principle characteristics of such topic as I see them. I said I would write in more depth about each of these characteristics. This is the first of those posts, on the standalone property of EPPO topics.

The word standalone is open to many interpretations. I have written before on what standalone means from the point of view of an authoring system and made a distinction between a chunk of content being able to exist alone (inside a CMS, for instance) and it being able to function alone for the reader. Here I want to look at what it means for a topic to function alone. read more