New article on Simplifying Complexity: Reduction, layering, and distillation as a strategy for simplicity
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.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.