Posts filed under ‘Information Anxiety 2’

Information Anxiety 2 made me anxious

Information Anxiety 2 by Richard Saul Wurman, fin 7/06.  Rather than give cures to information anxiety, though it offers a few, this book ends up describing the author’s philosophy, in a ‘this is how I do stuff, and it works for me so it should work for you’ kind of way.  I still like the book, though, as it challenges you to think differently about a lot of things.  For example, RSS feeds are often touted as a key to reducing information overload, since you can create your own news channels, cutting down on the noise.  But Wurman says personalized news is a horrible idea, since it’s often the noise that leads to the creative breakthroughs.  OK, but.  How do I know how much noise to let through in order to have that breakthrough?  But still, an interesting read.  More notes to come

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July 10, 2006 at 2:28 pm Leave a comment

Information Architecture and hat racks

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.

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

Bit Literacy and Information Anxiety

I'm reading Information Anxiety 2 by Richard Saul Wurman et. al.

Just started, but there's a discussion of 'bit literacy' : "An awareness of bits: what bits are, how they affect our lives, and how we can survive in a society permeated by bits"

With the explosion of digital information, the bit literate have the solution to keep themselves free from information anxiety: Let the bits go.  Don't sign up for newsletters, keep your inbox empty, don't always allow your phone to interrupt you, don't open new bitstreams, e.g. news ticker, ongoing feeds…the remaining bits are the valuable ones.

This reminds me of discussion on the creating passionate users site: the myth of keeping up in fact this is probably the place I heard about the book.

June 23, 2006 at 2:23 pm 1 comment


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