Just checking to see if I can add a post.
“Organize your information!” You have probably heard this piece of common sense advice so often that it doesn’t really register anymore. Unfortunately, like brushing your teeth, exercising and eating right, there are a surprising number of people who do not follow through on organizing their information. There is a cost to disregarding one’s informational health, and, if left unchecked, could turn into a serious problem. The theory of infogration surfaces these information problems and then will offer some solutions, but before we begin, we need to understand why organizing your information is so important.
Let’s take a look at the true cost of disorganization: wasted time, wasted money and wasted opportunity. This is true for an individual, a team, or an organization. The cost is like a leaky with faucet slow drip; it seems insignificant until you calculate just how much cumulative waste has occurred. Think of examples that you encounter every day: You are working on a project and you need to include some information from a previous report. What was the name of the file? Where did you put the file? Where is the file stored now? If you are organized, it may take you only a minute or two to find the file, and you go right back to working on your project. If you aren’t, you could spend 15 potentially unproductive minutes fruitlessly searching for it, whereupon you give up and take a coffee break. Be honest with yourself; how many times does this happen to you during a normal work week?
Now, take that lack of productivity and multiply that by everyone working in your office, then by everyone working in your organization. Have you started getting queasy yet?
In 2001, 2005, and 2012, the market research firm IDC released three whitepapers (“The High Cost of Not Finding Information,” “The Hidden Cost of Information Work,” “Bridging the Information Worker Productivity Gap: New Challenges and Opportunities for IT”) summarizing their studies that tried to quantify how much time was being lost looking for information and how much that actually costs. The three studies each come to the same conclusion; namely, that information workers spend around a quarter of their time trying to find the information they need. This unproductive time can be converted into significant financial losses for an organization.
This is the elephant in the room that strikes at the core of how people work in the 21st century. Computers have given us the ability to look up information anytime, to work from anywhere, and collaborate with people located far away. Yet, at the same time, the sheer amount of information available is so vast and the possibilities of what to do with it are so infinite, it is hard to know where to start, and where to find what you are looking for.
Larger organizations can try and implement changes to their current information management processes, but the bigger they are, the harder the change will be to implement, let alone be used in the long term.
But what if you are a small business that is just starting out? New small businesses are still flexible enough to put smart information management strategies in from the beginning. A small business that implements a scalable information management plan that was designed for them could have a significant competitive advantage moving forward. This is infogration.
After a long period of inactivity, I have taken a virtual broom and cleaned up the entire infogration site. The material about myself and my services is more informative, and I think the “zen garden” theme is a neat visual metaphor for what I am trying to accomplish through “infogration.”
I plan to spend the summer explaining through a series of blog posts what “infogration” is and how it can be achieved. It is my hope that I generate enough quality material from this process to create an e-book or at the very least a whitepaper.
In the spring of 2013, a three-part blog post series I wrote called “Effective Taxonomy Governance” was published on the Term Management website.
The goal of the series is to do a quick overview of a taxonomy governance initiative focusing on the three main groups (Taxonomist, IT/System and Enterprise) that need to work together- and what they need to achieve- in order for the project to be successful.
Part I talks about the role of the taxonomist in effectively governing a taxonomy.
Part II discusses IT’s role and the importance of selecting the right Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system for the initiative.
Part III emphasizes the role of the Enterprise in taking responsibility for the success of the taxonomy initiative and enforcing the governance provisions.
In the summer of 2012, I worked with Matt Turpin and the wonderful folks at the Seattle-based UX Design firm Fell Swoop on a taxonomy redesign of the FAQ pages on a client’s website.
We conducted user testing in the form of a closed card sort and multiple tree tests using Optimal Workshop’s awesome tools. Not only did the results of the card sort and tree testing inform the taxonomy redesign, but Optimal Workshop’s OptimalSort and Treejack created great visual deliverables that we used to show the client how we were progressing and the improvements that we were making.
As a taxonomist and information architect, it was a revelation to not only incorporate user testing into a taxonomy project, but have compelling metrics and visual deliverables instead of just a spreadsheet to present to the client.
X-posted on brianleblanc.info.
Infogration Consulting LLC celebrated its first anniversary on January 31st. Since then, I have been taking stock of my first year in business as a taxonomy consultant.
Over the course of this past year, I have been developing the framework for what I am calling infogration. Infogration is a methodology that helps growing organizations create an information strategy that integrates their information in service of their mission.
I got this website up and running last October but have yet to really put it to good use. This website will soon evolve and be filled with interesting articles and essays where I explain infogration in further detail among other things.
In the meantime check out the new page I made that talks further about infogration.
You know what they say they say about lotteries- you can’t win if you don’t play. Well, this is the story of how I won a trip to the 2012 LavaCon Conference on Digital Media and Content Strategies and the Content Strategy Workshops. The prizes in this lottery were the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful, intelligent and generous people and four days of exposure to lots of great information that is already changing the course of my career trajectory.
This story begins back in late July when I went to the Seattle Content Strategy Meetup. I am an information architect who specializes in taxonomy but is interested in content strategy, and attended because Scott Abel aka The Content Wrangler was giving a presentation.
Scott challenged the assembled content strategists to think of themselves as “business consultants who deal with content,” to apply Kaizen principles to content strategy and how XML can help with this. It was a really interesting, call-to-arms- type presentation and well worth the price of admission.
At the end he drew some names off of the attendee sheet to win door prizes, including the biggie, tickets to LavaCon and the Content Strategy Workshops. I was finishing up my pizza, figuring that my usual luck around winning drawings would hold up- and then he called my name!
LavaCon is an annual conference on digital media and content strategies with a focus on technical communications and the tech that goes into creating it. Being a well-established conference put on by Jack Molisani, it was a much larger, had a wider array of panels on a variety of interesting subjects with a lot of leading people in these fields in attendance.
This was the first of the (what I hope will be annual) Content Strategy Workshops. The Workshops were much more focused on the actual in-the-field practice of content strategy with sessions led by many leading content strategists. The people behind the creation of the Content Strategy Workshop are Scott Abel and Rahel Bailie, with help from Trey DeGrassi.
I talked with Scott for a while about his presentation and the fact that the conventions started two days after my wedding (!), but that I would make everything work. None of it would have worked of course without my beautiful new wife Elenka, who saw what an amazing opportunity this was and let me go to conferences right after our wedding (it helped that we did a pre-honeymoon in September).
After our wedding, I hitched a ride down to Portland with some friends who dropped me in front of the Portland Hilton and Executive Tower on Sunday afternoon and started a four-day binge of learning, doing, and meeting.
That first afternoon, I heard an acronym that was new to me- DITA. The next day, I went to a panel to learn more about it and discovered the existence of something that I should have known existed but there it was. Here was the practical application of XML that I had been looking for.
Now that I had something to find out about, I had to find people to talk to and see if they could point me in the right direction with DITA and XML. I talked to a lot of great people at the conference, including several leading people in the DITA field who very graciously walked me through the basics and where to get started.
Without a doubt, the Content Strategy Workshops and LavaCon are the best conferences I have attended bar none.
LavaCon was a very intense and informative experience. For someone at my level, it was just what I needed and even if I had lots more experience, there were opportunities to learn at every turn. Given that there were five panels covering a wide breadth of topics going on simultaneously, it was wonderfully overwhelming, but gave me exposure to ideas that were completely new and exciting to me.
The Content Strategy Workshop was smaller but just as intense and informative but laser-focused on the subject of content strategy. For someone at my level who is pretty new to it all, it was a great practical crash course in how to get out there and do it that were useful for newbies and professionals alike. There were two panels going on simultaneously and my only regret was that I was not able to clone myself and attend both.
I got a great deal out of attending LavaCon and the Content Strategy Workshops. I have only been in the information architecture field for a couple of years, and I got more out of these conferences, from the panels to the keynotes to the vendors and even the great schwag than I can express. I don’t know what else to tell you except to say they are awesome and I plan to attend both of them again in the future. I’m even starting to brainstorm a presentation that I could give and thinking of other ways to give back to this great community that I have discovered. Thanks again Scott, Rahel and Jack!
If you are remotely interested in content strategy, technical communication, XML, DITA, and the ever-changing world of digital media, start clearing your schedule so you can attend these conferences next year!
Cross-posted at brianleblanc.info