A Task is Not a Procedure

In The Tyranny of the Terrible Troika, I complained that the now almost universal trio of concept, task, and reference did not properly represent what topic-based writing and information typing are really about, and I promised to show why each one, as popularly practiced, fails as both a topic type and as an information type. I begin with this: a task is not a procedure.

EPPO Topics Conform to a Type

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Characteristics of an EPPO topic

One of the more unexpected characteristics of Every Page is Page One topics, is that they tend to conform to a type. We tend to think of topic typing as something specific to structured writing, something that is not natural to how we write, but something that is imposed on content for the sake of making it available for reuse, of for some other purpose.

But if we look at the millions of Every Page is Page One topics that exist everywhere across the web, we find that an very large number of them actually show strong characteristics of topic typing. Conforming to a type is actually something that comes naturally to an Every Page is Page One topic. read more

Every Page is Page One Topics are Everywhere

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Characteristics of an EPPO topic

As I have argued previously, Every Page is Page One is the new fact of information seeking behavior. Whether a reader finds information by searching, or by surfing links on other pages, or even by browsing the landing page of a website, the page they arrive at is page one for them. And when they are done with that page, the next page that they arrive at, whether they do a new search or follow a link, the next page they arrive at is not page two, logically following from the page one they have just read. It is a brand new page one. read more

Findability: The Last Mile

Search is somewhat like an airplane. If you go to a meeting in another city, the plane takes you most of the way. But the plane only takes you to the airport. The meeting is somewhere downtown. You need some other means of transport to take you the last mile to your meeting.

I wrote recently on the impossible expectations that we have of search. Search fails, many claim, because it cannot always get you right to the single exact piece of content that you want. As I argued here, I think that it is unreasonable to ask such precision of search. Even if the limits of language did not interfere, the reader still would not know enough to enter perfect search terms every time. Search is the long haul carrier of findability. But we still need to travel the last mile. And the last mile of findability is being sadly neglected. read more

Deconstructing Pizza

My daughter use to eat pizza one ingredient at a time. She would patiently sit and take her slice apart, making separate piles of pepperoni, green peppers, olives, cheese, and crust. She would then eat each ingredient in turn.  I am reminded of the bizarre (and short-lived) practice when I see how many people do topic type design (or at least, how they talk about it).

Designing topic types, I read in many articles and presentations, is about dividing information up into different types. The number of types proposed varies, but the principle always seems to be the same: there are distinct types of information, and the goal of topic design is to pick them out of your content and make separate neat piles of them. read more