Robert Horn's perspectives... (though his essays don't seem to follow his own guidelines...) This seems particular appropriate to Wiki and OutLining, plus other forms of HyperText. But note that his focus/Context is on relatively "stable" information, as opposed to the process of Writing/thinking collaboratively.
Structured Writing at Twenty-five defines the context. The problems of today's instructional developers and business writers are considerable. They have to prepare training manuals that enable managers, sales people, office personnel, and technicians to learn new products, services, and operating procedures rapidly and precisely. They have to describe complex, technical and administrative subject matters to a huge variety of audiences. In newer challenges they have to provide online, just-in-time documentation and training to millions working at their personal computers. Proposals, reports, and memos must be prepared rapidly, clearly, and concisely to meet the high performance communication needs of business today. Structured writing was developed to meet these challenges.
And suggests a presentation style based around "Information Blocks". Information blocks are the basic units of subject matter in structured writing analysis. They replace the paragraph as the fundamental unit of analysis and of presentation. They are composed of one or more sentences and/or diagrams about a limited topic. They usually have not more than nine sentences. They are always identified clearly by a label. Information blocks are normally part of a larger structure of organization called an information map which can be defined as a collection of one to nine blocks all related to a specific topic. In short, they are a reader-focused unit of basic or core parts of a subject matter.
Structured Writing as a Paradigm covers similar ground.
- break writing up into Information Block structures
- 40 "block types" cover 80% of cases (alpha list): Analogy, Block Diagram, CheckList, Classification List, Classification Table, Classification Tree, Comment, Cycle Chart, Decision Table, Definition, Description, Diagram, Example, Expanded Procedure, Table, Fact, Flow Chart, Flow Diagram, Formula, Input Procedure Output, Non Example, Notation, Objectives, Outlines, Parts Function Table, Parts Table, Prerequisites To Course, Principle, Procedure Table, Purpose, Rule, Specified Action Table, Stage Table, Synonym, Theorem, When To Use, Whif Chart, Who Does What, Work Sheet.
- each block contains sentences of only one type
- eliminate transitional sentences
- give label to each block
- these provide context, making transitional sentences unnecessary
- certain types of block types should have certain types of labels (don't have any detail on this)
- one approach: start the label with the name of the block type (Analogy, Block Diagram, etc.), then a colon, then a more unique name of the block. So if the block defines "Cash Value" then the label could be "Definition: Cash Value"
- (I've generally hated OutLining systems that required this, but now I'll reconsider it. Actually, since most OutLining software doesn't work this way anymore, I think I'll try putting a bold label at the beginning of the line for each Information Block.)
- do some top-down/context/user/lifecycle analysis - who's the audience, what's the document purpose, what does the audience already know, how do they think, etc.
- consider the 7 "information types": Procedure, Process, Concept, Structure, Classification, Principle, Fact
- "information maps": cluster of related information blocks. Helps reader understand mid-level structure of document (e.g. a subtopic?)
Mar'2021: interesting gloss on parsing a block into phrases.