Information architecture: learning how to classify

You won't really learn anything about how to classify content by reading this Gerry McGovern article. I will disagree with this point:

    2. Design classification like it will be 'written in stone.'
    You don't want to be changing your classification every
    six months. This will mean a lot of work and will create
You can attempt to do that, but when times change, terms will change. The term "Primitive art" was once accepted by the art community as a major rubric for referring to arts of Africa, Oceania, etc. Now that term is considered by some to be patently offensive. The Library of Congress Subject Headings are constantly becoming outdated as the English language changes and as new concepts arrive and older concepts evolve. The organization of knowledge also shifts with time. Change is inevitable. You just have to allow for it in terms of time and resources.

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Classification in stone

Wow. The value of any classification scheme is entirely bounded by the ammount of material to be classified. All schemes fall apart at some point. A scheme that works for 12 objects may not work for 15 or even 100.

Classifications are designed to be broken. The good information designer should know the boundries of any classification scheme and be willing to ditch it when the objects no longer fit.

This is basic stuff.

Oh Gerry...

It seems that whenever Gerry writes a column on information architecture, we link to it here, but I'm not quite sure why, based on the comments on previous articles:

Granted, not all his articles are horrible (the one on why someone should be in charge of your website was good — not a flash of brilliance, but certainly better than most), but it seems like recently when he's tried to talk about IA, he's gotten it all wrong. And this is a guy who bills “information architecture design” as one of his “areas of specialty”?

Yes, I know

Yes. I refrained from linking to his stuff for the last few months, but there are just times when I have to point out what he's saying as a proponent of IA if only to correct him. Hopefully more people will be reading articles by you in Digital Web, Jeff, or by any of the host of IA's who write a lot, but I'm sure there are business decision makers or web development practitioners who will find his articles and see the term "Information Architecture", read what he has to say and be duly mislead into believing that he knows what he's talking about when he talks IA and start parroting his sound bytes.

I guess I blog these in some part to let those practioners know there are more authoritative people to read.