What's Interesting about Organizing

These notes might help you get started questioning the mis-leading ease in organizing stuff.

The organization is not the same as the representation

Organization by location can be represented by a map, or by a list of co-ordinates, or by a path... A Google map image or a street address or a GPS coordinate or a route. A street-level drawing that shows us X is next to Y, a photograph, a set of directions (go north 2 blocks, then left a block, then ...), all can represent location. Perhaps even a timeline can represent location: head west, proceed at 2 knots for 6 months and you'll be at ... The search for longitude was a search for location.

By the same idea, organization by time can be mapped to place. Continuums can be represented by charts, numbers, graphs, diagrams of circles, gradients, slopes, those little tags at the top of hangers, positions in racks ... Hierarchies can be illustrated by trees, circles within circles, size of blocks, just size, facial expressions (degrees of pain), positions with respect towards a center or top (the higher on the page, the more hierarchically powerful) ...

To emphasize this, notice that Lynch distinguishes between Chap 3: Information Architecture and Chap 4: Interface Design

Some Notes

Similar category organizations can use very different sets of terms. Compare the terms in the top navigation menu at the BSU website with the equivalent left-side navigation bar at MIT.edu. Categories tend to give unrelated items similar importance, so that, on the BSU site, Athletics and News are the same importance as Academics.

Alphabetic organization relies on naming things. How will you name the items, according to what system? Is it Carrot or Daucus or a person with red hair? The term hack. How many entries in your alphabetic organization? And how with that organization be organized? Organized as a verb? a noun? as the verb as it's used in programming? the same verb used by general public? the same term as used by a cabbie? the verb used as UK slang, or US slang? What gets included in the alphabetic list and what's left out? Is it General Admissions, or Admissions, General?

Continuum. Lynch tells us that a clear and consistent way of measuring is necessary for organizing on a continuum. But does that really help? Dress sizes: UK, Euro, or US? Small, medium, large? 16 #1 24 #2 20 #3 12 #4? How do continuums equate? When is a small a medium? (A: At Einstein Bros.) How many colors in the spectrum? 3? 7? 10? 100m? What kind of granularity in the scale? Will you use full grades of A B C D E or + and -? What gets lost between the cracks? Where does the representation of a continuum become dependent on location?

Who makes the decisions about ranking? About naming categories? About how the continuum will be graded? What's their interest in the terms? Who's left out by those terms?

Those Other Organization Schemes

When considering how else you might organize things, you don't have to use just LATCH. Recall that there is another set of organizational schemes out there on Organization Schemes. Some of these overlap with LATCH ideas, but these schemes can help you imagine how else you might organize things. It might be easier to re-imagine a chronological scheme as a metaphorical scheme, for instance.

Exact Organization Schemes

Subjective Organization Schemes


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