Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Information to the People!

In a to-the-point interview at ITWorld, David Weinberger shares more of his thinking about tags and taxonomies. A sampling:
We have well-developed ways of organizing and categorizing and thinking about stuff in the real world, very basic principles that have been with us for thousands of years. Now we have this digital way of organizing digital stuff, and the principles of organization are quite different. They violate all sorts of the rules in the real world. In the real world you can only put a book on one spot on one shelf, whereas if you're doing this digitally, you'd put it into as many different categories as you could. That's a pretty basic rule that gets violated.
David's money quote gets right to the heart of the matter: "[T]he owner of the information no longer is the owner of the organization of that information. We're really taking that upon ourselves now individually, and most importantly, socially."

When David and I talked recently, this idea reverberated around my mind for days. What does the tagging revolution mean for information architecture—a field currently built on the top-down principles of library science? My hunch is that IA will undergo a metamorphosis of sorts. There will still be digital arenas where top-down classification is necessary. But everywhere else, the role of IA will shift to helping organizations understand the social groups that (in David's words) will "inevitably form rapidly around the way they tag stuff"—and organize their digital offerings in response.

In other words, IA will continue its move toward UXCentricity.


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