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New article on Simplifying Complexity: Reduction, layering, and distillation as a strategy for simplicity

Mar 28, 2018 • simplifying-complexity

I published a new article on Simplifying Complexity called Reduction, layering, and distillation as a strategy for simplicity. It's all about how reduction and distillation of information helps reduce complexity for users.

In the previous article on Simplifying Complexity, Ensuring information harmony in the larger documentation landscape, I argued for the importance of integrating new information into a larger documentation landscape. I explained that it’s easy to create a new article and publish it to a documentation site but much harder to assess whether the new information harmoniously fits in with all the other information on a site (not just harmony with other docs, but with existing forum posts, blog posts, and other information assets). Integrating a small piece of information into a larger body of information requires wide reading and information analysis to determine information fit and harmony.

Conversely, the opposite activity — taking an existing body of information and distilling its essence down into a smaller information unit (whether that smaller unit is a title, overview, heading, topic sentence, quick reference guide, or some other compressed form of information) also requires cognitive prowess. Crystalizing large information into a brief distillation that captures the main point in as little a space as possible can be a difficult skill that rivals a poet’s astuteness with language and articulation. Despite the difficulty, this distillation is worth it because this content can go a long way towards simplifying a complex system.

Read more here: Reduction, layering, and distillation as a strategy for simplicity.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical communication — Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, academics, and more. I'm interested in , API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a technical writer of any kind (progressional, transitioning, student), be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.