If you could download information from your brain, what would that file look like? A jumbled mess of words, thoughts and ideas, most likely. A mess so large that it would need it's own database. A database so large that it would take a small army to manage. And that's just your
Who could possibly find the time and resources to organize all the crap...er...genius oozing from all of our amygdalas? Brain, meet taxonomy.
Seth Earley, founder of Earley & Associates
, presented the strategies and complex systems that help to make a mess manageable today at Web Content 2007
The ultimate problem of the Web is that stuff is hard to find. Stuff is hard to find because there is too much stuff to find. The ultimate solution is a continuum between chaos and control. Organizing information too much, doesn't allow for innovation. Not organizing it enough, doesn't help. Things are easier to organize and label or, to be more Web 2.0, tag
when they fit into a context.
Words by themselves take on a different meaning than intended when they fit into something bigger. If they are related to something bigger, or even better if those words mean something to a specific community, it creates less ambiguity and provides more relevancy.
Taxonomy enables the user to connect to information and tags are labels that let people know what information is important. It sounds so simple, but the hard part is striking a balance between controlled, uncontrolled vocabularies, structured, unstructured formats, formal, social tagging, and information or semantic architecture.
Allowing users ways to browse, search and zero in on the content they are looking for helps us to organize better. Mr. Earley's point that "search terms are short, ambiguous and an approximation of the searchers real information need" was well-made.
After all, there is a method to that mess going on in our heads. Figuring our what it is, is the important part.