Information Organisation

How we organise information is closely linked to information architecture. How best to organise information has been a challenge for centuries. It is well worth reading both Too Much To Know by Ann Blair and Glut by Alex Wright to appreciate the developments in information organisation. The scope of this section is vast and I am going to be very selective in the resources I mention. As an introduction to the topic Organisating Digital Information For Others by Maish Nishani is an excellent start. Mashi is based in Singapore, as is Patrick Lambe, the author of Organising Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organisational Effectiveness, which is a superb book based on Patrick’s extensive consulting experience. Another experienced taxonomist is Heather Hedden, based in the USA, and the 2nd Edition of her book The Accidental Taxonomist has recently been published. Much of the information organisation work inside organisations tends to focus on thesaurus development, and Vandra Broughton wrote Essential Thesaurus Construction in 2006. Don’t be put off by the date – the guidance is as relevant today as it was a decade ago.Vanda has also written Essential Classification, the 2nd edition of which was published in 2015.

A good thesaurus can make a substantial difference to search quality, and this is the subject of Powering Search by Ali Shiri. A broader perspective on all aspects of information organisation can be found in Information Representation and Retrieval in the Digital Age by Heting Tue, though she does provide a rather personal view of the subject. It is important to be aware that ISO Standard 25964 sets out standards for thesaurus compilation. If you are ever commissioning a thesaurus it is always wise to verify that it is compliant with this standard.

There is an International Society for Knowledge Organisation which has a number of affiliated country organisations, of which ISKOUK is especially active. The main ISKO site offers a substantial number of resources on all aspects of knowledge and information organisation and publishes the journal Knowledge Organisation.

See also Information Architecture, Information Needs, Information Science

Martin White

October 2016

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