In Everything is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger points out that no single classification system will necessarily best serve all those who use the classified content, and he points out several tools used by popular websites to let individual users create and share what they consider to be significant information. Many of those tools could be applied to improve the quality and value of ECM collections. Here are some of the examples he cites:
- iTunes – users can create and share their own play lists and can explore the play lists of others with similar interests.
- Flickr – users can assign tags of their own making to individual photos and can use tags assigned by other users to find photos of interest.
- Amazon – has its own book classification system but also posts user reviews of books to help users select books. Amazon also makes suggestions to users based on the purchase history of readers who buy similar books.
- Delicious – permits users to create lists of bookmarks or links to interesting sites, lists they can name and share with other users.
Instead of relying on a centralized, one-size-fits-all indexing scheme, these websites have added to the accessibility and hence value of different types of collections by empowering individual users to curate and share their own lists, evaluations, or tags of individual items. Here are some thoughts on how organizations could help empower their users to add value to their content collections:
Make the Classification Scheme Transparent
Users will better understand the value and limitations of classification schemes if those schemes are explained and users are able to share comments and observations about the classifications. This could be done by putting the scheme on an internal Wiki that permits comments, tagging, and linking. This could help in two ways:
By being able to link to specific entries in the Wiki version of the classification scheme, users could create private bookmarks of where to go to solve specific types of problems, and could share those bookmarks within work groups or across the company. Some thought could be given to permitting anonymous tags and comments as a way of achieving the most candor on the classification scheme.
The Wiki could serve as a repository for comments about problems users had with specific classifications or their suggestions about improving them.
Use Actual Examples
Embedding or linking to actual examples of files that have received a particular classification will aid greatly in understanding individual classifications. Where necessary, individual PII-type information could be redacted to enable the widest dissemination of this information. Where there are major subcategories, examples should be given for each.
Present Attribute Extraction Information
To encourage users to navigate among different classifications based on shared attribute values, the explanation of each classification should include information about what data values are typically extracted from files or documents of this type, and should include lists of other classifications that share any of those values.
By sharing what the classification scheme is, providing examples of each classification, and noting what attributes are extracted form and shared by other classifications, users can become more informed on how to use and extract value from the collection. They are also able to share their knowledge and insight.
For more information on managing your unstructured content, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Documents ARE Structured – Just Heterogeneously http://beyondrecognition.net/documents-are-structured-just-heterogeneously/
- Boosting PII Detection and Protection in “Unstructured” Content: http://beyondrecognition.net/boosting-pii-detection-and-protection-in-unstructured-content/
- Need More than Text Search for Unstructured Content: http://beyondrecognition.net/need-more-than-text-search-for-unstructured-content/
To request your copy of Managing Unstructured Content, Practical Advice on Gaining Control of Unstructured Content.
*Everything is Miscellaneous, The Power of the New Digital Disorder, by David Weinberger, is available on Amazon at:https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Miscellaneous-Power-Digital-Disorder-ebook/dp/B000R7PUW4/#navbar