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Summary (Collab Info Taxonomies)

Page history last edited by c.j._petlick@whirlpool.com 10 years, 3 months ago


In this chapter we explored an important part of the overall virtual collaboration landscape – namely, the organization and management of shared information.

As we’ve seen, information organization really does matter . . . there are productivity benefits associated with well-planned information repositories and, conversely, significant costs associated with poorly-designed and implemented information repositories.

Two basic approaches to finding information were identified: browsing and searching. When browsing, users navigate -- usually in a somewhat directed manner -- through a hierarchical arrangement of information categories and subcategories, looking for information of interest. When searching, however, users are typically trying to find a particular item by entering rather specific search criteria.

Information taxonomies support both browsing and searching methodologies, since an information taxonomy defines an underlying organizational scheme. We’ve seen that considerable human-factors research has produced a number of guidelines for creating taxonomies that lead to higher levels of usability and findability. However, it’s important for information repository administrators to assess the effectiveness of users’ browsing and searching activities.  Various evaluation methods were presented, ranging from user workshops to empirical studies to collection and analysis of system-level user activity data.

We also saw that searching requires some additional supporting elements in addition to taxonomies -- search indexes, metadata in the form of user-applied properties and, more recently, metadata applied through social tagging.

With the exception of social tagging, the information highlighted in the paragraphs above is valid for any information repository, whether it has one user or millions of users. The focus of this book, of course, is on how things work in a collaborative environment. Accordingly, we looked at several issues unique to information management in collaborative environments, including creating a common understanding among users, collaborative creation of taxonomies, awareness of document status, and challenges faced when migrating legacy documents to shared repositories.

Last but not least, when multiple users are creating and managing information in collaborative environments, governance of that information becomes extremely important. Some of the governance topics presented in this chapter include information ownership and administration, system accessibility and security, document versioning and retention, and various organizational and regional considerations.

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