Reference vs. Learning in a Bottom-up Information Architecture

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Bottom-Up Information Architecture Q and A

Do reference and learning require different organization in a bottom-up information architecture? This is another in the series of posts addressing questions from my TC Dojo webinar on Bottom-up Information Architecture.

Q: Is there a difference in looking for a specific information fact (such as the depth of the Manicouagan crater) versus a search for understanding a larger information set, such as the development and formation of craters in general? Would the latter type of search merit a more hierarchical mini-TOC to navigate through the content? read more

Confusing Analytic and Synthetic Truths in Defining Topic Types

Ray Gallon’s recent post, Let’s Break a Tech Comm Rule proposes that we should rethink the idea of separating tasks from concepts. Hooray! It’s no secret that I’m no fan of this separation.

Reading Ray’s post, also sparks this thought. It is a common and sometimes catastrophic error to confuse an analytic truth with a synthetic truth. That is, it is an error to confuse a truth about how to analyse something into its parts with a truth about how that thing should be organized and presented to users. read more

A Reference is Not a Topic

Continuing my reconsideration of concept, task, and reference as cardinal topic types, this post is about reference. I planned to call it “A Reference is Not a Table”, as I promised in The Tyranny of the Terrible Troika, but thinking more about it I realized that the issue is really much broader than  that. The real issue is that a reference is not a topic at all, it’s a database.

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.