I’d like to post some thoughts about presentations I saw at the Euro IA 2007 Conference. Already mentioned Are’s presentation.
Here’s a summary of mine, which is essentially the last slide in my presentation (available on SlideShare) that sums everything up:
- The cost of adding more information is noise. Don’t forget this when people talk about “unlimited shelf space” online.
- There are different types of sources of metadata to consider: user-generated metadata (e.g., tagging), technically generated metadata (e.g., entity extraction), and owner-created metadata (e.g., controlled vocabularies).
- There are also different types of structures of organization to give meaning and context to the metadata when you represent it: user-created structures (e.g., filtering tags for special interest groups), technically created structure (e.g., Google News page), and owner-created structures (e.g., a thesaurus).
- In the Long Tail, any and all types of metadata and types of structure are needed. Forget about the silly arguments that one will replace the other. Think of it as matrix with the types of metadata on the side and the types of structures on the top.
- Further, since niche markets fit the description of a bounded domain, and since traditional taxonomies and classification are often good strategies for organizing information in bounded domains, as Clay Shirky points out, AND as we move to a culture of niche markets, as Chris Anderson predicts, traditional IA and taxonomy will become more important.
- Additionally, niche markets are defined by the categories you create. Online, a “pile of information”–as David Weinberger says in Everything is Miscellaneous--begins and ends with the IA and organization you develop.
- IA in the Long Tail will be about second order design. You may not be able to customize each page or local navigation scheme. Instead, you need to provide people with the tools they need to make sense of information.
- This means a shift for IA to look at abstract, broader patterns of human information behavior and of information structures in a domain. Card sorting is great, but we need to go well beyond this. We need to look at users much more closely, as well as the inherent patterns of information in a domain.
Not the most practical talk I’ve given, but many people thanked for the talk and said it got them thinking. So it seemed to have been well-received.