How Do You Organize Your Data?

Good information architecture is extremely important in today’s world, with tons of stuff literally exploding at everyone, especially people using pc’s a lot. I’ve noticed it also, with people who don’t have some sort of information architecture in place being unable to deal with large information flows therefore they end up spending to much time or give up altogether. As “Jakob Nielsen”: said: _”It will soon be time to teach a simplified version of information technology to high school students, and possibly even to bring it into elementary schools as well”_.

There is so much information/content/data available on the internet that people who can access/organize/grasp large amounts are going to be ahead of those who can’t. In a decade or so, in a job interview somewhere, applicants will also be evaulated on their ability to deal with a thousand emails/messages along with their other work skills. Already, some people working in tech industries in the west have to be dealing with hundreds of emails/messages on a daily basis as a natural part of their jobs. A list of resources about IA:

*Web Sites:*

* “boxesandarrows”:

* “Google Directory > Reference > Knowledge Management > Information Architecture”:

* ” IA wiki – the Information Architect’s Wiki”:


* “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web”:

And here’s the article on slashdot which started me thinking about information architecture:

bq. After returning from a well deserved holiday, I was faced with an exploding inbox. While organizing and deleting my mail, I realised I was having trouble classifying each mail into one specific folder. I had the feeling I should be able to link to one email from several folders (e.g. product information should be linked to from the ‘vendor’ folder, as well as from a specific project folder where this product is used). The more I thought about this, the more I realised that trees (such as the Windows filesystems) are not really ideally suited for organizing data. On UNIX-like filesystems, symbolic links allow the creation of simple graphs for organising data, but I have the feeling data could be organized more efficiently. How does the Slashdot crowd organize their data? How do you manage files, email, contacts, meetings and all the relationships that might exist between them?

>> “Slashdot”:

3 thoughts on “How Do You Organize Your Data?”

  1. Information Architecture happens whether we know it or not. Web sites grow like human minds, whether we know it or not. Web designer, as we know it, IS dead whether we accept it or not. What remained behind the “heavenly boon” of dot com bubble for web was tremendous potential and more opportunities for web designers to think outside the box. More fields had already begun such as Information Architecture, Usability Engineering, Information Design, User Experience, Interaction Design and not to forget Interaction Architecture (quite recently advocated by Tognazzini).

    There used to be good times when you would hear “fashion photographer”, “water color artist”, modernistic architect” and so on. The one bloody label such as WEB DESIGNER offends me more than anything which is no longer there. As the web evolve and our industry slowly matures (it actually might take 10 years or even more from now to web design industry of the world to get mature), the specialized and more focused fields need to be nourished, advocated, spread and implemented. And if you lived till I die, you would be able to hear a web designer so good in interactive products, a graphic designer specializing in women, fashion and cutting edge haute couture etc. The parent fields i.e. graphic design and web design would always remain there but there WONT be many smart guys like past who would specialize in all the business metaphors and services they render to each business. I wish more people could accept they CAN’T handle consumer end web sites, they can’t handle fashion and portfolio sites. And I actually, am quite miffed, by almost all design agencies, whatsoever, who keep beating their drums over their expertise for two major fields e.g. Corporate Identity (which is a very vague idea here anyway) and Children related projects. A single example baby?

    Coming to Information Architecture, there are very beautiful things to see: buildings affect us Physiologically – where we live, stay and work are the places that shape us intrinsically, intangibly whether we know it or not. Colors too affect us Physiologically whether we know it or not. Information spaces – web sites, software etc. too fall in this category where we spend our time, learn, grow, entertain ourselves, seek help, assistance and do our business. Just like these institutes, fields got so much attention, expertise and skill set to nourish it, a sick closed mind coming from xyz college and that of 19 yrs of age and doing flash work – God save me. — raised a very beautiful point: information classification is too personal – it highlights the one’s internal information architecture, how one percieves something and he arranges, labels and classify according to his cognition. The interconnectedness of the web and its ubiquity it has offered also raised many challenges to web designers (I am referring here Generic name of web designers which actually encompass many fields, but labelling a single person with the title really miffs me). Information Architects MUST understand the relationships of offline terms and vocabulary mapping to users’ minds. And when we say each human has his own (which may be similar to others or vise versa) classification systems (I call Schon circle, you say Aghaz and another one say Clifton center, while the place is actually same), the need to generate a universal or most likely understood labeling systems has never been felt so important.

    You have got the website, you have got the content but you classify as you choose – Travel guide or Travel? which one is more comprehensive. While making Information Architecure of the complex, large and massive websites or small web sites, one must adhere that users have one word: don’t make me think. One of the glorious rules of Software Engineering, I heard or read somewhere was: the label of the components of system MUST be self-obvious. That means the user should tell before clicking the link where it would lead him to. The link or the page must also tell him Where in the site he IS right now. And another thing that Information Architects IAs must do is to ensure the users know WHERE would they GO from that page.

    A user is on page A3 of a site and he would like to know:

    from where did I came to this page.?

    What’s the relationship of this page with other pages of the same site.?

    Where can I go AHEAD?

    Where would I go clicking this link?

    And whether a normal user can Tell it by himself or not, comprehensive research has highlighted these issues and HCI labs have been raising the awareness to create harmonious, synchornised information systems which map to the users’ mental model. A user might have to click the link and feel disappointed if he doesn’t see what he Thought (whether he knows what he thought or not)

    Now that, I have, at my best, tried to explain some of the issues have come across during last years, I, increasingly, feel that as our users mature, we must adhere to their needs and quantitative ways have to be continuously adopted to address those behavioral models users are evolving into. As the nos. of web sites increase each year or each day rather, unless and until we come up with a unified, coherent model of presenting information in easy-to-understand and easy-to-use way, its less likely that we should hope amazons, yahoos and ebays. And hey, don’t start publicizing yourself to be Information Architect so bluntly. We need to understand, come to a consensus what is Usability, what are different methodologies of Faceted Classifications, Meta Data, Taxonomies building, Visual Vocabularies and so on. Until and unless we agree how we should address user’s needs and still more important is the need to capture the data and information regarding those needs in a unified and coherent way, we would keep on listening “apna karachi to be very user-friendly”, “ to be technically the best” etc. (sorry to spider’s writers but they could have shown better skill sets in their respective fields instead of playing with others’)

    I would highly appreciate if — could get more web guys around here, as I don’t have my own blog nor do I think it would be suitable for others to discuss these issues on my blogs (at least those who know me can’t dare) so what is the difference between Sign In and Check email at probably some complex, buggy database needed such duplication while intrinsically it’s same to check email or sign in.? And where is Shell’s petrol pump? near Schon circle, near Aghas, Uzma shopping center or Schon Chowrangi?

    Really appreciate — to start such a thread which helped me doing my catharsis without his expecting such a thing hopefully. 🙂


    Ejaz Asi

    P.S even though technically I design web sites, I would appreciate if you could forget I am a web designer.

  2. –, I would recommend starting off from Usability First and go through Jacob’s Alerboxes (shhh, don’t believe everything he says, just go through) and Argus Acia and finally Information Architects’ first own organization, I am jealous of mostly.

    Boxes and Arrows is not recommended to below or even average minds 😉 and if someone can like BA, he should be sent to IBM’s UCD approach and Ease of Use website as well at And you forgot the group of small IAs at Adaptive Path however, for final (for now) recommendation should be Don Norman’s site. Though the fellow works under the same roof as Jacob dwells but… you know. 😛


  3. uffff mera damagh pagal ho geya hie. I had lunch today (which is quite rare) and logging back again on KO revealed I had missed the point — raised related to IA. erggg sorry bro, shall write with regard to normal person. hungry mind and stomach can create such havoc, i knew not heh. I just errrrrr cursing myself, just took it in professional sense. that how web designers strictly and web professionals generally can adhere to this field. As for normal users, would write with that regard. Though mostly I have been highly focused on Information Architecture, Human Computer Interaction for practitioners and other fellow peers. baassss you are creating addiction –dd hehe khairrr as if i can resist it. Shall post soon about this aspect as well.

    See ya bro.

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