A Simplified Model for Facet Analysis

“The purpose of this study is to propose a simplified model for facet analysis that incorporates the principles of facet analysis proposed by both Ranganathan and the CRG. The purpose of this simplified model is to act primarily as a teaching tool to introduce LIS students to a consolidated, and hopefully easy-to-read, classification model that will enable them to understand how faceted classification systems are designed and how they work.”
If you want to learn how to construct a faceted scheme properly you might try reading the following: AIFIA | A Simplified Model for Facet Analysis

Balancing visual and structural complexity in interaction design

People will complain about a visually complex page at the sight of it. But they will also complain if the information they need isn’t immediately available to them when they start using the site.

An article dispelling many of the overused misunderstood principles of simplicity that people believe (my self included at one time) would greatly aid the usability of a web site.

But from Edward Tufte:

High density is good: the human eye/brain can select, filter, edit, group, structure, highlight, focus, blend, outline, cluster, itemize, winnow, sort, abstract, smooth, isolate, idealize, summarize, etc. Give people the data so they can exercise their full powers — don’t limit them.

Clutter/confusion are failures of design and not complexity.

Read: Balancing visual and structural complexity in interaction design

Faceted Classification

A faceted classification uses clearly defined, mutually exclusive, and collectively exhaustive aspects, properties, or characteristics (a.k.a. facets) of a class or specific subject (Taylor, 2000). The idea for a faceted classification really began with the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) in which a standard number representing place (location) was appended to a subject number by a device now known as a facet indicator. However, Dewey did not develop the idea further and in the early 1930s, Ranganathan formalized the use of the fully faceted approach with his Colon Classification. Other classification schemes such as Universal Decimal Classification, now provide facets for places, time periods and forms. More recently, work has been undertaken to develop the Bliss Bibliographic Classification (BC2) into a fully faceted classification scheme.
Read: Faceted Classification

IA Tools

Below you will find document templates, process map posters and other tools to help you in your practice. The documents, which have been donated by various people in the organization, have been found to be useful at one time or another. Items can be used in combination or alone as needed.
Link: AIFIA Tools

Origin of the Phrase, “Information Architecture”

“The phrase “information architecture” appears to have been coined, or at least brought to wide attention, by Richard Saul Wurman, a man trained as an architect but who has become also a skilled graphic designer and the author, editor, and/or publisher of numerous books that employ fine graphics in the presentation of information in a variety of fields. In the 1960s, early in his career as an architect, he became interested in matters concerning the ways in which buildings, transport, utilities, and people worked and interacted with each other in urban environments. This led him to develop further interests in the ways in which information about urban environments could be gathered, organized, and presented in meaningful ways to architects, to urban planners, to utility and transport engineers, and especially to people living in or visiting cities. The similarity of these interests to the concerns of the LIS professions is patent. ”
Link: Origin of the Phrase, “Information Architecture”

Pandora’s Portal

“It begins with a seductive whisper into the ear of an IT manager.
Wouldn’t you like to control the chaos that is your intranet? Haven’t you dreamed of providing unified access to all corporate knowledge? Come with me. I have the answer. Right here in this tiny box.
Power. Knowledge. Groovy Gadgets. How could any mortal resist this techno-utopia? Maybe just a peek. A pilot project. What harm could it possibly do?
In the true spirit of vicarious curiosity, let’s focus on the three most interesting evils befalling the portal-peeking IT manager.
1. Definition
2. Knowledge Management
3. Information Architecture”
Link: Pandora’s Portal

Escaping Flatland: Towards Better Documentation for Information Architects

One of the hottest topics these days in Information Architecture circles is documentation. This is probably partly because the IA’s role is so ill defined. This presentation is representative of my first attempts on the use of visualization to communicate information architecture concepts to clients.
Presentation Link (Chinese) Original English language presentation is available in .pdf format

Topic Maps

“Topic maps are a standard for storing metadata (similar to thesauri, or RDF). They can be used to generate navigation for a website, and lots of other metadata tasks. Topic maps are a new standard (since + 2000) and are slowly starting to be discovered.”
Mmmmm… but what ARE they? A topic map consists of a bunch of topics, and is often written in XTM. Or it can be kept in a database. Or written on paper. Or carved in stone, you get the idea. Apart from topics (like: “the play Hamlet”), it also contains associations (like: “the play Hamlet was written by the author Shakespeare.”) And a topic map also contains occurrences. (Like: “At this URL: http://hamlet.com you can find a description of the play hamlet.”)
Link: Easy Topic Maps

Towards a General Relation Browser

“The paper presents the case of ongoing efforts to develop and test generalizable user interfaces that provide interactive overviews for large-scale Web sites, portals, and other partitions of Web space. The interfaces are called Relation Browsers (RB) because they help people explore the relationships across different attribute sets, thus enabling understanding the scope and extent of the corpus through active exploration of different “slices” defined by different attribute value juxtapositions. The RB concept is illustrated through discussion of six iterations over a five year period that included laboratory usability studies, a field test, and implementations with a variety of data management problems. The current application to design concepts in a digital government setting is discussed, and the concept of the RB as the basis for an interface server is presented.”
Link: Toward a General Relation Browser: Marchionini and Brunk: JoDI

Differences between Information Architecture and Information Design

I believe I gleaned this originally from Jesse James Garrett some time ago and have found it a useful explanation for both myself and others.
Between the two names we have different concerns. Information architecture (IA) is primarily about cognition ? how people process information and construe relationships between different pieces of information. Information design is primarily about perception ? how people translate what they see and hear into knowledge.
Also I consider IA to be far broader in scope to include whole regions of information while ID is concerned with what the people are involved with now.
Both require different skills. Information architects come from a variety of backgrounds, but I sense that a majority of them display an orientation toward language. Information designers, on the other hand, tend to be oriented toward the visual arts. As a result, the majority of information designers come from exactly one discipline: graphic design.
Information architecture belongs to the realm of the abstract, concerning itself more with the structures in the mind than the structures on the page or screen. Information design, however, couldn?t be more concrete, with considerations such as color and shape fundamental to the information designer?s process.
Be mindful that organization and presentation are different concepts. Data can only be organized with in a few principles: Magnitude, Time, Numbers, Alphabet (Chinese by stroke?), Category, Location, and Randomness.
Magnitude, Time, Numbers, and Alphabet are all sequences of some type, which we can use to organize things based on a similar characteristic shared by all the data.
Category and Location are organizations that also use some inherently meaningful aspect of the data around which the data can be orientated.
Randomness is the lack of organization. It is important when we are trying to build an experience that isn?t necessarily easy ? an exploration or game.

You Do It, You Just Don’t Know It

“This article has so far explored how technical communicators can incorporate the skills and thought processes of information architects to greatly improve the user’s experience of Web-based and information products. But for technical communicators who wish to make a career shift, it is important to consider what’s shaping the field of information architecture today…”
Link:Information Architecture: You Do It, You Just Don’t Know It

Grounded Classification: Grounded Theory and Faceted Classification

“This paper compares the qualitative method of grounded theory with the construction of faceted classifications in library and information science. Both struggle with a core problem: the representation of vernacular words and processes, empirically discovered, which will, although ethnographically faithful, be powerful beyond the single instance or case study. Both began as reform movements against powerfully-entrenched a priori schemes with claims on universality. As the landscape of information retrieval is shifting rapidly (with networked distributed computing, digital libraries, large-scale and enoromously powerful search engines), a comparison of grounded theory and faceted classification offers some important cross-fertilization. Some of the challenges faced by classification in environments such as the world-wide web or large digital libraries include: how work settings and the flow of real-life tasks give rise to information needs and strategies; how different vernaculars and representational schemes may work together heterogeneously; how informal and formal classifications interact in information retrieval and use. At the same time, some of the challenges faced by grounded theorists include asessing the quality and completeness of analysis; managing large amounts of unstructured textual data; and accounting for a basis for theoretical sampling. The two endeavors offer each other some aid in meeting this challenge. Grounded theory offers a way to include processes and actions in the analysis of vernacular representations (a question introduced as a core theoretical problem by Ranganathan); and a source of theoretical richness for the understanding of intermingled types of work. Faceted classification offers a way to assess the structural integrity and architecture of a particular theory, via facet analysis and other analytical tools used in thesaurus construction and assessment; with automated thesaurii tools, an aid for managing large bodies of text which will augment current qualitative methods software.”
Link:Grounded Classification: Grounded Theory and Faceted Classification

Information Theory

“Information Theory regards information as only those symbols that are uncertain to the receiver. For years, people have sent telegraph messages, leaving out non-essential words such as “a” and “the.” In the same vein, predictable symbols can be left out, like in the sentence, “only infrmatn esentil to understandn mst b tranmitd.” Shannon made clear that uncertainty is the very commodity of communication.”

Read:Lucent | Information Theory and Overview of Information Theory

25 Thesis – Mainfesto for AIfIA

The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture (AIfIA) is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to advancing and promoting information architecture. My favourite quote:

“The emergence of Information Architecture (IA) as a formal discipline has gathered key areas of expertise together to provide a framework for the rational design of content-rich sites. IA provides the glue that allows content and services to work in tandem to satisfy user requirements, and the structure necessary to evaluate success in meeting those needs. Without IA, both users and creators of information-intensive applications are likely to suffer from wasted resources, time and effort; even worse, they won’t know where to start to make things better the next time.”

Read: AIFIA | 25 Theses

Faceted classification of information

Given the significant difficulties in categorizing books, papers, and articles using traditional library classification techniques, it would seem next to impossible for humans to classify the small chunks of rapidly changing information that characterize information-intensive business environments. But it

Faucet Facets

Jeffery Veen of Adaptive Path has written a great introduction, with examples, into the benefits of using fauceted classification .

“So often we assume that Web sites should be hierarchically organized. We talk about a “home page” that offers “top-level navigation” so that users can “drill down” to the content. It’s as if we’re programmed to think top down.

But what about information that isn’t as easily structured this way? Sometimes, content has many attributes that have different importance to different users. A hierarchy assumes everyone approaches these attributes the same way, but that’s often not the case.”

Read: Faucet Facets: A few best practices for designing multifaceted navigation systems

Using Wireframes

Nam-ho Park an information architect in Virginia has a great article on using wireframes.

Wireframes serve a central function in communicating the content and layout of each web page for internal discussion and client review as well as a blueprint from which graphic designers and web developers will derive final designs. It’s importance, roles and implementations are discussed in this article.

As well Omni Group produces a wonderful piece of software called Omni Graffle which when used with Michael Angeles’ palette becomes a fantastic tool for producing wireframes. If you purchased a new Macintosh recently and are using OSX on more than a casual basis you may have noticed that this application is included in the software installation for free.

Read the article: strange systems: Using Wireframes
Learn about: Omni Graffle
Download: Michael Angeles’ Omni Graffle wireframe palette
Download: Apple Pi’s GUI Design Palette

Unraveling the mysteries of metadata and taxonomies

Christina Wodtke of Boxes and Arrows interviews Samantha Bailey (former Argonaut and current lead IA for Wachovia Corporation’s Wachovia.com website) about Information Architecture, her dream process and the mysteries of metadata and taxonomies. View the article …

I like these pull quotes in the article, “I think good IAs (like many good librarians) are often generalists at heart-people who have a love of learning and a tendency to be interested in practically anything that comes their way.” and “Right now it’s a very thrilling time – we have a new medium and a new discipline, and a lot of work ahead of us teasing apart what it all means.” Hmm teasing apart.

IA & the Tube

Information Architecture & the London Underground: A metaphor for explaining IA.
“For some time now I have been searching for a good description of what information architecture is. Mostly I have found sites dedicated to ia that offer resource material but they don’t actually explain what it is. I have had people ask me what it is and I’ve been unable to give a decent description myself.”

Interesting way to define of information architecture – I have run into the same problem on numerous occaisions -and love using real world examples to state my case. Unfortunately metaphors are sometimes lost to second language users and my other language abilities certainly are not up to the task. Usually more precise but unfortunately less accurate language in bullet point is often used.

IA = Sexual Pleasure?

I just finished a long meeting and I notice that my face is all flushed like it might be if I had a good session of sex … except I am at work and it certainly wasn’t that kind of meeting. And it certainly was not so exciting. I am displaying some of the symptoms – flushed face, tiredness, hunger, and sore muscles. If I had of known that information architecture was going to be so arousing I would have majored in library science instead of music.