Saturday, December 27, 2008 7:30 am EST

In follow up to my post “Wikis Add to Information Overload” I want to talk a bit more about classification and structure.

Portals, Intranets, KM systems, Wiki”s and other information tools often are out-of-control before a problem is noticed.  (I define information tool as any item used to create data i.e. Word documents on a home computer.)  Soon users are asking themselves, where is that grocery list?  I can’t find it.

File folders are the natural order enforcer for those Word files on the home computer.  Classification is natural but my classification is not the same as yours.  So you search and you don’t find, so you recreate.

In a company this can lead to information explosion.  Of course it’s better to deal with this problem before the explosion, but that is rare.  The business of doing business always takes precedence to classification.  Even on this blog, my tags were getting out of control and I had too few categories.  Recently, I realized the importance of expanding my categories and limiting my tags.  The themes of my musings are generally the same so my tags should be consistent.

Similarly, in any information tool used to control data classification is important.  The possibilities seem infinite but principles of classification apply.  Business purpose of the tool being organized governs the work.  Then the work begins based upon business unit, information purpose, and/or subject matter.

Cross-references and upper-level categorizations are important.  Granularity in classification can defeat the purpose.  What you might ask is the purpose?  The purpose is to make information findable so that it can be used and re-used.