I attended a seminar on somefink called "minimalism" recently. Naturally, what this is depends entirely on the context. If I were an art historian, you might think I was talking of Stella or Serra. If I were an architect, you might think I was talking of Mies van der Rohe.
But I am a technical writer. (Now, stay awake. I'm not finished yet. You don't want me to tip Tilted Arc  over on you, now do you? It's heavy.) Talk of minimalism in technical writing circles always comes 'round to JoAnn Hackos, technical communications superstar. Yes, we have them too. Superstars, that is. You haven't heard of them, but they're out there. And Hackos is their Queen.
The seminar was unbelievable!
Here are the highlights:
- We write too much; no one reads it. (This manual..., In this chapter..., This document assumes..., Before you begin..., Introduction..., Getting to Know the Product Features..., Navigating the User Interface..., Document Conventions..., Related Publications..., Overview of...Using the Such and Such Feature....) Yawn, yawn, yawn. All a waste of time and space.
- We don't provide what people want. (Just tell me how to increase the volume of my cell phone! Just tell me how to increase the volume on my cell phone! Just tell me how to increase the volume on my cell phone!)
We meticulously document every software feature, yet we're still somehow missing the point.
Why? Because we don't understand what customers are actually trying to do with the product. It's actually easier to write from spec, from talking to engineers, and from looking at the user interface than it is to talk to users. So that's what most of us do. But it won't do. It won't do.
I was pretty inspired to do things differently. Stay tuned. I hope I'll have more to tell you soon.