The Discipline of Organizing: Core Concepts Edition
In our daily lives, organizing is a common personal and group activity that we often do without thinking much about it. Organizing is also a fundamental issue in library and information science, computer science, systems analysis, informatics, law, economics, and business. But even though researchers and practitioners in these disciplines think about organizing all the time, they have only limited agreement in how they approach problems of organizing and what they seek as their solutions.
This book analyzes these different contexts and disciplines to propose a discipline of organizing that applies to all of them. Whether you are organizing physical resources like printed books or museum paintings, or digital resources like web pages, MP3s, or computational services implemented in software, you are creating an Organizing System—an intentionally arranged collection of resources and the interactions they support.
The transdisciplinary concept of Organizing System lets us see that resource selection, organizing, interaction design, and maintenance take place in every one of them. We can also identify many design principles and methods that apply broadly when we describe resources, create resource categories, and classify resources by assigning them to categories. A vocabulary for discussing common organizing challenges and issues that might be otherwise obscured by narrow disciplinary perspectives helps us understand existing organizing systems better while also suggesting how to invent new ones by making different design choices.
This book began as the lecture notes from a graduate course on Information Organization and Retrieval I have taught since 2005 at the University of California, Berkeley. My goal was to teach these traditionally distinct subjects in a more integrated way. The former is the focus of library and information science, while the latter is core to computer science and informatics, and their conventional textbooks and topics are widely divergent. But while these academic disciplines are divided, in the “real world” information organization and retrieval are increasingly intermixed and converging.
We needed a book that could bridge—or better yet, synthesize—the two disciplines of library science and computer science. We believe that their intellectual intersection is the study of organizing, and in particular, the analysis and design of Organizing Systems.
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