Saturday, August 21, 2010
Warning: another ranty blogpost.
My boss is counting on me to develop a magic classification system for the entire organization. She thinks I'll be able to just pull it out of my ass -- a magical system that every scrap of information can be categorized against; one that is both intuitive and user-friendly, and seamlessly supports search, retrieval and disposal.
Here's what I have to say about that: IT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN SISTA.
First of all, if it was so important and easy to do, then it'd be done by now... and not by me, but by the people who create information in the first place.
Secondly, this is NOT how the real world works. Yes, we need order. Humans naturally group and categorize. Traditionally, foldering aids retrieval. However, information does not fit neatly into singular folders. It's organic, it links, it can be about MANY subjects ... so why stuff it in ONE folder? Folders are DEAD.
So what about 'logical' folders, or tagging? Well .... it's not going to happen either. Not only because we've gone too long without ever having to describe our information, but because the value of a particular piece of information is not always known at the point of creation. It may start out as a simple idea and evolve into something greater. Just look at the web. Do we put things away in folders and click through them to find information? Hell no, we search. Plus, not everything ends up in a 'document'. Thanks to the web, there are many ways to collaborate. Things can indeed happen without spinning documents.
Organization is also personal. We all like the flexibility of having our own systems -- by subject, priority, project, or not at all. Don't impose some kludgy taxonomy that will be out-of-date the minute it's created AND make it harder for me to find my information, just don't.
This blog is a case in point. Some time ago a friend suggested I blog about my purge as I seemed to be having more fun with talking about it than actually doing it. It was also a polite way to say "not that interested D, tell the blog sphere instead". It turned out to be great advice because I'm able to get all my ideas out of my head and make room for ... other useless ideas. I did not attempt any kind of tagging or classification because I did not know what I would be blogging about. Dreaming up potential tags seemed pointless. So I decided to wait until a critical mass was created and then I would let the information show me where there were recurring themes (such as parenting, relationships, enlightenment, fitness, etc.). I'm now at that point. Looking up older posts is painful because I have to remember 'when' I created them. Nothing is really linked so where I've expanded on a particular idea (such as gentle discipline) I have to click through many posts until I find what I want. So will I go back to all 100 posts and tag them? No, I will not. And so it goes.
Maybe I should look closer at auto-classification tools. Users DO NOT want to be burdened with this. I do not want to impose this on anyone. How the hell am I going to convince my management that this is a complete waste of time? FML.