Information Architecture and hat racks

June 29, 2006 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

Described in Wurman‘s Information Anxiety 2 is the concept of LATCH, “…information…can only be orginized by location, alphabet, time, category, or hierarchy.”  Ah.  A nice concise list that he suggests will ease our Information Anxiety.  Until you realize that location, alphabet, and time are all categories or hierarchies, and the category of ‘catagories’ is infinite.

And the discussion of hierarchy is different than the way I understood it.  Wikipedia suggests a hierarchy“is a system of ranking and organizing things or people, where each element of the system (except for the top element) is subordinate to a single other element.” In the book, car prices are suggested as hierarchical in a sort of continuous way, “organiz[ing] items by magnitude from small to large, least expensive to most expensive, by order of importance, etc. It is the mode to use when you want to assign value or weight to the information.”   I don’t get it.   

A lot of people have commented on Wurman’s ideas.

Google search on ‘Information anxiety LATCH hierarchy’

Definitions of ‘category

  • a collection of things sharing a common attribute
  • A specifically defined division in a system of classification; a class.
  • A division of a main subject or group.
  • A subdivision of a larger group

But the last reminds me of how I think of ‘hierarchy‘, but other definitions for hierarchy:

  • A body of persons having authority.
  • Categorization of a group of people according to ability or status.
    The group so categorized.
  • A series in which each element is graded or ranked: put honesty first in her hierarchy of values.
  • A body of clergy organized into successive ranks or grades with each level subordinate to the one above.
  • Religious rule by a group of ranked clergy.
  • One of the divisions of angels.

…so ranking or grading is indicated here.  Others:

  • A structure that has a predetermined ordering from high to low.

Well now I’m kind of more confused.  In taxonomy, “…the system is hierarchical because it forbids the possibility of overlapping categories.”  Another interesting word: heterarchy.

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Entry filed under: Information Anxiety 2.

Categorization and dried fruit JPod, by Coupland

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