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All that information – what’s it for?

August 16, 2010

We spend our lives at work, in an office or processing data. Information flows as a relentless stream through the workflow of our waking lives. We pump it out, process, pass it on. So much information, so much detail. Why? What is it all for? We take for granted that we need it; that it has a purpose.

Information theory, that arcane science, has many opinions on this. But for us there is a simple explanation, one that is fundamental to our success as writers. All information in business has one purpose: to help someone, somewhere, make decisions. That is it. No more, no less. If the information provided, or the conclusions reached do not perform that simple function then, as readers, we are not interested. After all, at work we do not read out of love (not usually), we read out of need. We need information. Not any information, but relevant information that helps us make ‘informed’ decisions. From this springs so much that is good practice in writing.

There is nothing more guaranteed to bore or distract a reader than irrelevant information. There is nothing more likely engage the interest and approval of a reader than the right information, full of relevance, insight and accuracy. (See blog Readers are people too.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 1, 2010 14:43

    So… the first question when you are about to write something – an email, a blog, an article or a PhD thesis – is ‘who is going to read this?’ What do you know about them? How much do they know already and what do they need to know?

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