Standards for distributed information architecture

The articles in this month's iteration of Digital Web Magazine all focus on standards, and their importance to the present and future of the web. In addition to markup standards like HTML and XML, and presentation standards like CSS, there are formats like SOAP and XML-RPC, which use existing web standards as a basis for communication and transactions between web sites.

However, there is currently no standard for allowing web sites to share data with respect to their categorization, organization, and labeling. Creating standards for distributed information architecture would allow for easier and more effective combination of content, resources, and metadata across sites.

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MacroIA standards are needed

There are various scaling and scope factors to IA. The self-contained Website IA usually falls into a MicroIA. The enterprise wide taxonomy and cross-walks between vocabularies and information organizational structures falls into the EnterpriseIA realm that shows up in corporate Intranets and building, using, and reusing datastores. The more global perspective that has enterprises sharing information using agreed upon or standard categorization and taxonomies falls into MacroIA, which usually relies upon parties envolved to agree upon an XML DTD structure and other global structures. Industry standards groups have been working on XML standards to set the information descriptors/metadata you desire. These distributed information architectures are extremely important to get organizational information to the next level.

top down vs bottom up

There are also arguments to be made for some bottom-up evolving of defacto standards.

We've talked a bit about this on the IAwiki at SharedCategories, and just recently some discussion on the SIGIA-L list on facilitating Distributed Thesauruses extended the concept.

It looks like Topic Maps could be used from the bottom up, without requiring a detailed and extensive taxonomy being developed and agreed upon first. Something to do with the Published Subject Indicators element of Topic Maps, if I understand correctly.

also see PeterV's xfml

at xfml.org for exchangable faceted metadata language