Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Microsoft is to Darwin as Apple...

Direct from the mouths of indexers: "There's still a lot of unfindable information."

Now there's a statement that the creationists, er intelligent designers, might jump all over. "If it's unfindable, how do you know it was ever there?" And speaking of school boards, Microsoft may indeed be Darwin. If so, Apple is the Intelligent Designer.

Microsoft and the Origin of the Index
Microsoft has a new operating system coming out to replace XP. It's code-named "Longhorn," and with it, Microsoft proves that evolution is the way, the light, and the truth. Longhorn will have a new help system. Microft has been heard to say that its help system will not have an index, only a search engine. That's because "no one uses" indexes, or so Microsoft thinks. Its index is dying out from underuse.

Apple doesn't think so. Apple's next help engine will include a new form of indexing. Indexing is big with them.

Technical writers have to think about help systems when designing help. They design and write help to work with the system supported by the operating system. The kinds of things that a help system supports cause tech writers to stay up nights and write in their blogs.

Seek, and Ye Shall Get A Lot of Hits
Searching is all we need, right? Google rocks (much to the dismay of Microsoft's MSN, by the way). People tout their abilities to find anything in the universe in no more than two Google searches.

I don't think search is the human to the ape of an index. Ever been frustrated by a search engine? Ever given up trying to find something in a help file because the 17,452 results you got were a bit too many? Why do some bloggers categorize their entries? Too much time on their hands, perhaps? Doubt it.

No, I didn't Read the Book. I'm Waiting for the Index
Jan Wright has an article about the future of indexing called, appropriately, The Future of Indexing. In it, she states that "It's about aboutness." It still takes humans to help provide context so you can find what you want. I found it interesting.

I believe in the index. I love a good index. Buy Apple. Save the index!
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