Robert J. Glushko

Philosophers, scientists, designers, and many others have sought to make sense of how we organize our physical and intellectual worlds for over two thousand years. We owe a great general obligation to all of them, so we dedicated this book to them. However, it is more important to acknowledge more specifically the people who made The Discipline of Organizing happen. I think it is befitting of a book about organizing to be organized in making these acknowledgments, as follows in three categories:

The Motivators

Annalee Saxenian, the Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Information, challenged me in 2005 to teach the “Information Organization and Retrieval” course required of all entering graduate students and provided me with a supportive environment in which to do it. The lecture notes of my predecessors, Berkeley colleagues Marti Hearst, Ray Larson, and Mark Davis, provided important intellectual scaffolding as I developed my own syllabus and lectures.

When I discovered the little red book by Elaine Svenonius, The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization, my mind opened up to library and information science. I aspired to write a book that could build on and broaden those foundations to connect with my own background in cognitive and computer science. A few months later when I met Elaine I was very pleased when she endorsed this ambitious effort.

I have been continually encouraged by faculty members and deans whenever I talked about this project at Schools of Information or similar academic units. These include the U.S. universities of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and North Carolina, Canadian universities of Toronto and Western Ontario, and European universities in Vienna and Berlin. In particular, I would like to thank Colin Allen, Ron Day, Miles Efron, Thomas Finholt, Dan O’Hair, Margaret Hedstrom, Michael Jones, John King, Kathryn LaBarre, Kelly Lyons, Gary Marchionini, Jerry McDonough, Allen Renear, Seamus Ross, Victoria Rubin, Michael Seadle, and Linda Smith. I especially appreciate the encouragement that Deans Marchionini and Seadle gave to Ryan Shaw and Vivien Petras, two of the principal authors of this book. I apologize to those of you that I have forgotten to list here.

Margy Avery of The MIT Press has pushed hard when she needed to and has been very receptive when I needed her to be.

The Contributors

It took me four years of teaching the IO & IR course at Berkeley before I knew enough (or too little) to think I could put together a book that might replace the diverse set of textbooks that course was using. I did not realize at the time how much I was learning from these teaching assistants, and I thank them for not making it obvious to me. Later on, after the book project was underway, my teaching assistants were invaluable in pointing out problems with the book, often proposing their solutions as well.

Almost exactly three years ago the project to write this book began in a graduate seminar whose goals were to define the topical coverage and structure of the book, and then to write chapters starting with my course lecture notes. Among the courageous students in that seminar were many authors of the book being published here: Rachelle Annechino, J.J.M. Ekaterin, Ryan Greenberg, Jess Hemerly, Michael Manoochehri, Sean Marimpietri, Kimra McPherson, Karen Nomorosa, Hyunwoo Park, Dan Turner, and Longhao Wang. Nick Doty, Mohit Gupta, Erin Knight, and Joyce Tsai also contributed during this start-up period.

In Spring 2011 Erik Wilde and I conducted a seminar titled “Principles and Patterns of Organizing Systems” to refine the key concepts of the evolving book. This seminar added Brendan Curran, Krishna Janakiraman, Julian Limon, Rowyn McDonald, Elisa Oreglia, Monica Rosenberg, Karen Rustad, Bailey Smith, Leslie Tom, and Anne Wootton to the growing set of student contributors. Leslie gets credit for the book’s title.

In Spring 2012 Andrea Angquist, Jacob Portnoff, and Brian Rea, supervised capably by Anne Wootton, were essential editorial assistants in my end-to-end effort to rewrite the drafts of Chapters 1-7 to improve their conceptual integration and continuity.

I used draft chapters of the book in my IO & IR course three times, beginning in Fall 2010. The final version of the book in 2013 barely resembles those early drafts, which means that many students suffered to improve the book. But they did not suffer passively. Many students submitted problems with the Twitter hashtag #tdofix, and submitted examples using #tdoexample, which benefited the book greatly but which surely confused their regular Twitter followers.

Many other Berkeley students did important work on the book. Jen Wang designed the cover; Divya Anand, Ajeeta Dhole, Christina Pham, and Raymon Sutedjo-The did the illustrations; Lisa Jervis, Shohei Narron, and Anne Wootton worked on the extensive bibliography. A group of students whose work does not appear in the printed book but whose efforts will be revealed in future ebooks include Luis Aguilar, Fred Chasen, Philip Foeckler, Jake Hartnell, Eliot Nahman, and AJ Renold.

Eliot Kimber showed me that it was possible to write a book that could be published simultaneously in print and in ebooks. It has not turned out to be as simple as someone as talented as Kimber can make it seem, but I am grateful to Eliot for convincing me that I should try to do it. With help from Bob Stayton, Adam Witwer (and O’Reilly Media) we will get there.

I must also thank Christine Borgman of UCLA for bringing a group of energetic and thoughtful UCLA graduate students into the project. Two of them, Matt Mayernik and Alberto Pepe, are contributing authors. Amelia Acker, Jillian Wallis, and Laura Wynholds taught me a great deal about libraries and archives, and I am certain they tried to teach me much more than I was able to learn.

Many people read draft chapters and were thankfully unsparing in their criticism because they wanted to make this book as good as it could be. Thank you Scott Abel, Larry Barsalou, Marcia Bates, Christine Borgman, Michael Cohen, David Kirsh, Jeff Elman, Rob Goldstone, Jonathan Grudin, Ben Hill, Mano Marks, Patrick Schmitz, Elaine Svenonius, Jeff Zych, and everyone else whom I have carelessly forgotten.

Few books have been as battle tested before they went to print as this one. Let me thank those who have been willing to teach from a book that did not entirely exist: Jane Greenberg, Irith Hartman, Lauren Plews, Sarah Ramdeen, Christian Sandvig, Emily Seitz, Isabelle Sperano, Konstantin Tovstiadi, Hong Zhang, and especially Vivien Petras and Ryan Shaw who went to battle with (and for) this book multiple times.

The Essentials

The third and final category of acknowledgments is for people who were essential, without whom this project would never have been finished.

Jess Hemerly and Kimra McPherson joined the project in the “first campaign” of Spring 2010, worked tirelessly through that summer to make chapter drafts course-worthy, and served as teaching assistants in Fall 2010 when the book was first tested with students. They helped me believe that there might be a book in there somewhere when it took a lot of faith to see that.

Erik Wilde taught me much through our multi-year collaboration and dialectic when he was on the Berkeley faculty from 2006-2011. Erik made me understand the elegance and great scope of the word “resource,” which became the central concept in this book. His meticulously annotated reviews of many chapters from a computer science perspective helped inspire the idea of discipline-tagged endnotes.

Ryan Shaw and Vivien Petras, both young professors at schools a long distance from Berkeley, found courage in themselves and had confidence in the draft book coming out of Berkeley in 2011first to teach with it, and then to help write it, becoming the primary reviewers of my chapters and the first authors of Chapters 8 and 9.

Murray Maloney joined the project in April 2012 as copy editor, but we together soon recognized that his nearly three decades of SGML, XML, and publishing experience were too valuable not to exploit further for the benefit of this book. Without Murray’s work as the markup and production editor, indexer and glossary-maker, there would be too much work left to do and no one capable of doing it as well as Murray has. Somehow along the way he also found time to make important intellectual contributions as a co-author in Chapters 5 and 8.

Finally, I want to thank Pam Samuelson. She has been far too patient with me as I talked with her, to her, and at her for three years while this book was being written, who turned many quarter-baked ideas into half-baked ones, and who turned many half-baked ones into cornerstones of this book. Most importantly, she has helped me focus on this book and get it finished when it would have been easy to give up on it. I promise not to take on another book project anytime soon because Pam has suffered enough for this one.

Robert J. Glushko, 31 December 2012


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The Discipline of Organizing: 4th Professional Edition Copyright © 2020 by Robert J. Glushko is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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