Make Me Think About Organizing

Turn a critical eye on what we've read about organizational schemes, about how organizational schemes appear on pages, how the hierarchies are arranged, how terms are used , what any specific organizing scheme emphasizes and what it leaves out, and what all that entails for writing and organizing web content.

Use a dialogue between equals to make me think about organizing.

The dialogue might be done as a FAQ, or a Q and A. An exchange modeled on Plato's dialogues. Perhaps a catechism. An interview-cum-discussionn. An exchange of emails or messages. Don't use a play or exchange as in a novel or short story: stay focused on the exchange. Stay with the form of an abstracted dialogue pointed towards the ends of drawing out the complexities in organizing information.

One very important caveat. In many dialogues, one voice is more informed and powerful than the other. In your dialogue, the voices should be equally informed, equally pernicious, equally adept at bringing forth a viewpoint or argument, equally adept at critiquing that view point. Not he Clueless to The Clued-In. Not a dialogue of expert to novice, but an exchange between equals.

Draw on the readings, your notes and responses to the readings, other readings ... In this article, you are orchestrating ideas. Those ideas are Out There, on the web, in the social sphere. As an orchestrator, the dialogue-master, you bring them in, comment on them, place them up against one another ... so that they maintain their complexity rather than being reduced to Solutions. The dialogue should be written so that readers can use it to think further about the ideas you have assembled. That is your contribution to the matter.

Images are good. The dialoguers can exchange images, pages, links ...

Six to ten minutes reading time. Dialogues are not as concise as exposition, so they need time to develop.

You're not aiming to resolve the complexity, nor solve the problem, nor come to any final, easy solution. You are aiming, in this dialogue, to help people think about the complexities of organizing without reducing it to "easy", "natural", "intuitive."


To reiterate: Most dialogues posit a clueless questioner and an expert responder. Don't follow that model. A FAQ or a a catechism are possible with two equally-informed speakers.

The genre is going to say a lot about your purpose and attitude towards the subject. A FAQ as a genre means something. FAQs operate in a technical setting. They work from frequently asked questions - not just any old set of questions. A catechism invokes religious question and answer. A platonic dialogue screams Philosophical Exchange. An intimate interview-cum-discussion suggests a tv or live interview, or an edited print transcript of a taped exchange.

In every case, the form carries over into the content, so choose a dialogue form that works towards your aim.

Ways in: Agents involved in information design are often at odds: some want to sell product, others are looking for information, others want to be seen high on the web hierarchy, some want to emphasize the visual, others offer gimmicks, others want to experiment with information designs. Still others are left out of the discussion. Many don't ask questions at all. These are all positions that your dialoguers can take.

Some alternative ways of organizing

You or your dialoguers might use these to explore what organizing is about more closely. Each of them questions or pushes back against the accepted way of organizing content - or can be used to push back and question.

Alternatives in the Common Domain

Outlines as trees. Recipes as flowcharts. English grammar as decision trees. Misuse of #tagging as categories ...

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