A colleague sent me a link to a very good on-line lecture by Peter Morville that was sponsored by Library and Archives Canada. Peter has written a number of books about search patterns and information architecture; all very good reading if you like this topic. At the end of the lecture a question was raised about the influence of culture on search patterns and the impact this would have on an information architecture. Unfortunately, while Peter thought this was a very good question, he wasn’t able to provide an answer. If anyone else has experience in this field it would be great to hear what you have to say.
The second item that sticks in my mind about this lecture was a comment near the end regarding the evolution of tagging and how folksonomies may replace the need for formalized information architecture – let the end-user define the architecture through tagging. I thought a lot about that and then realized that while that might work from an outward facing perspective, an organization still has an obligation – whether dictated by law, or to minimize risk – to apply an internal information architecture.
I recently saw an article (and do you think I can find it again?:)) that stated that the focus on user experience (UX) was being taken too far – that web teams had to remember not to promote UX to the point that the purpose of the site took a backseat. It brought back to me a number of discussion I’ve had with development teams around the value of SharePoint sites. For the development teams it was about the value of collaboration, and adding any document management or recordkeeping architecture or metadata would inhibit the effectiveness of the tool. End-users wouldn’t use it, etc.
Information is faceted and as a result we now talk about faceted search to meet the needs of the various stakeholders in using and managing the information produced. From the presentation by Peter Morville and the work I’ve done with information management, I am coming to the conclusion that whatever architecture is developed, it has to enable the flexibility to support how users organize information (folksonomies) as well as more structured architecture approaches to meet compliance requirements – and the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact I believe that is the biggest challenge for IM professionals – finding the commonalities, balancing the competing elements and brokering a well formed solution among the delivery team.
As a small aside, has anyone tried Diigo? It is a bookmarking tool that allows a user to highlight the paragraphs of interest within the site and store the highlighting with the bookmark. Wish I was using that when I saw that article on UX mentioned earlier in the post:)