When I write a book review most of the time, I write the review within a week or two after completing the book. I do that because it allows me to keep the topics the book presents fresh in my mind. However, it has the disadvantage of not having been fully integrated into my thinking and certainly hasn’t had the opportunity to be “road tested.” When it comes to Organising Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organizational Effectiveness (and yes, it pains me not to spell it with a ‘z’ like my US English says I should), I waited before posting this review.
The reason I waited was because I felt like in this case having a more complete set of feelings about the book and it’s thoughts was more important than being able to distinguish specific thrusts of the text. Instead, I opted to try it out for a while – to see if any of the material I gained from the book was valuable. Good news it is.
I had my assistant type up a few excerpts from the book – things that I felt were highly relevant to the topics of taxonomy and organization. I’ve referred back to this document on several occasions to pick out relevant snippets and to clarify my thinking. I’ve passed the excerpts on to a few friends and colleagues who have been interested in the topics of taxonomy and organization. In short, I know that there is value in the book because I’ve seen its value.
The book itself tries (mostly successfully) to crystallize your thoughts on organization. It helps you see the organization that you already do and learn to apply these techniques to the kinds of problems that confront you when you’re trying to create a taxonomy.
It also covers how you can implement different structures with different levels of technology support. At the lowest level there are organizational patterns that work with paper. Higher levels of technology offer up additional options. For instance, it is completely impractical to do a full text search over paper stored in a file cabinet – however, it is possible to leverage technology to do this kind of a full text search. In a paper system it’s difficult to attach a single item to multiple places – multiple dimensions. However, technology can make this practical and very useful to helping users find the information they’re looking for.
If you’re trying to put your arms around Taxonomy and Organization this book won’t give you all the answers – but it will certainly add a few more tools to your toolbox. Pickup Organizing Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organisational Effectiveness if you’re seeking a better way to organize or the tools you need to create a taxonomy for your organization.