For the entire month of June I’ve been writing a series of blog-a-day posts based on a set series of open-ended questions to myself. This is the second-to-last of those posts. It’s nearly done. Cheer.
June 29th // Something You Want To Tell Others
Part of my new(ish) role as an information professional in the twenty-first century is evangelizing (in the non-religious sense) some of my own (and others’) ideas behind modern electronic information management. In the age of quick, dirty, and ever-present information overload, I think this is becoming a very important job — not only towards the creators of such information, but to the consumers as well. (As if there is a difference anymore, right?) And I use the word ‘evangelizing’ here very deliberately, not only because it evokes an inherent sense of enthusiasm for the given topic and speaks directly to the telling-others-some-deeper-story concept, but also because it speaks somewhat to the sense, feeling, and essence of a “cantos informatica” — a poetry of the topic of information — that might drive others to embrace it more deeply.
Okay. So, that may seem a little… uh… let’s say… OUT THERE… for a self-proclaimed, rational-minded skeptic such as myself — and I put it up publicly with delicate, ginger pause, hoping that the term doesn’t spark any of this — but there is much more to what I’m trying to convey than some wonky information spirituality. I’m not. In fact, some of what I see as the whole qualitative effort to manage information and make it easier to use is currently a vague kind-of touchy-feely guessing game for which I would like to see a quantitative measuring stick established in my lifetime. So then, my interest in this so-called cantos is more of a rational understanding of fleeting beauty or subtle quality that comes from the meeting of good information with good interface and useful purpose.
And I’d really like to tell others about that. Though I need to get my mind around that first.
Something that I have been working on in the past year to assist in getting my mind around it — and thus assist my evangelizing — has been work on a sort-of broad information taxonomy. To some extent I know there has been work done on this in the past, but nothing I’ve been able to find tries in any concerted way to systematically and strategically break out the aspects of such a classification system and put measure to it, or at least not in a way that is useful to people in my type of job. Some of my work has been written down — I’ve started a wiki where I’ve been building the skeleton of those ideas and I’ll link to that someday — and some I’ve been applying (usually covertly) to many of the practical problems that arise in my real-life job.
The odd and exciting thing is that such application of those principals has already been remarkably successful for my work, even in their embryonic forms. If you’ve read this far, you’ll probably be interested to know that this taxonomy is a broad classification system that pulls four high-level elements of website design (or UX/UI design in general) into binary options and categorizes any number of existing websites using said system. While I can already see a need for sub-elements, and deeper levels of more granular classification, even the broad classification has done amazing things for when I’ve used it. This has been, for no other reason, I suspect, than that understanding an information architectural style — as in know why it is being used, who is using it, and other important bits — is an important as knowing about different styles of construction (a house versus a condo versus a shopping mall), different models of vehicle (a sedan versus a pickup versus an f-18 fighter jet), or different flavors of cooking (fast food versus barbeque versus vegan cuisine).
I’ll save the exact details for another post or, more likely, a later link to my wiki.
But the poetry of this idea — the cantos informatica — is what then? It certainly is not a literal poem. It definitely has little to do with verse or rhyme. And while it might be enhanced with a dirty limerick or two, but this would not be a vital component. I guess then, it’s mostly just the seed of some really big task. And as I figure out how to evangelize my notions to the world — to tell others the essence of this thing I see but can’t yet catch — I’ll just hope it’s not an albatross.