Morgan's Notes on Make Me Think about Organizing

Mara 2016, rev Mar 2017

The cleverness of five hat racks that Lynch mentions is compelling because it makes things seem easy and final. But the hat racks idea has become decontextualized from detailed rationales, separated from its ontological foundations. The idea has become reified, naturalized, and finally prescriptive. Another issue is this: There may be "five fundamental ways to organize information,” but there are far more ways to present that organization on a screen. There’s a space between the organizational schema and the representation of that schema.

Let's bring to the surface some of the stuff the taxonomies seem to leave out and question what kind of advice is being offered.

in class review and questions

- Do we find any content that does not fit into the five hat racks?
- What else the taxonomies tell us about the organizer, the purposes of the organization, the relationship the organizer seeks to establish with the users. In cases where the system works, what effect does it have on the case? the users? eg Jen on Google Maps.
  • Taxonomies tend to conserve the social order as determined by the creators and users of that order. They may appear natural and the only right way to organize.
- What do we we have to be familiar with in the social context of the space in order to understand them.

Where do we place
Organizational schemes are not neutral or inert. They shape, eliminate, assign value. We can see the value coming out even in the method: What is going to be considered content and what's not? The hierarchy is ideological as much as it is ontological.

The schemes seem to favor certain kinds of content over other kinds - mainly text over image, for instance, and institutional over personal.

An exercise

Organizing leads us to taxonomies. And taxonomies are how we put representations of the world together to make sense for selves and dictate sense for others.

Do some taxonomy redesign.
Notice how your work is limited by your willingness to imagine the users in their complexity, your knowledge of what content is available, what the institution has declared as legitimate content and made available, and your ability and willingness to create new content if it isn't available. Notice that it is limited by your sense of appropriate terminology, and dependent on what terms would connect with family or students in other majors. Notice that it's limited by a limited knowledge of what others might need.


Notes on your notes

5 Apr 2015

Here are some of dangers in looking over sites that I culled from reviewing your notes.

The hat racks seem to work by eliminating possibilities and content as much as by including them. So, let's look at an alternative set of schemes for organizing to see what we can see.

There are no comments on this page.
Valid XHTML :: Valid CSS: :: Powered by WikkaWiki