30 Key Points in Chapter Three

  • Which activities are common to all organizing systems?

    Selection, organizing, interaction design, and maintenance activities occur in every organizing system.

    (See “Introduction”)

  • Are selection, organizing, interaction design, and maintenance the same activities in every organizing systems?

    These activities are not identical in every domain, but the general terms enable communication and learning about domain-specific methods and vocabularies.

    (See “Introduction”)

  • What is the first decision to be made when creating an organizing system?

    The most fundamental decision for an organizing system is determining its resource domain, the group or type of resources that are being organized.

    (See “Selecting Resources”)

  • Why does selection by memory institutions differ from sampling in scientific research?

    Memory institutions select rare and distinctive resources, but in scientific research, a sample must contain representative instances.

    (See “Selecting Resources”)

  • Does making selection principles clear and consistent ensure that they are good ones?

    Even when the selection principles behind a collection are clear and consistent, they can be unconventional, idiosyncratic, or otherwise biased.

    (See “Selection Criteria”)

  • How does “looking upstream” support better resource selection?

    If you can determine where the resources come from, you can make better selection decisions by evaluating the people, processes, and organizing systems that create them.

    (See “Looking “Upstream” and “Downstream” to Select Resources”)

  • What is a resource property?

    In this book we use property in a generic and ordinary sense as a synonym for feature or “characteristic.” Many cognitive and computer scientists are more precise in defining these terms and reserve property for binary predicates (e.g., something is red or not, round or not). If multiple values are possible, the property is called an attribute,dimension,” or “variable.

    (See “Organizing Resources”)

  • What is the relationship between resource properties and organizing principles?

    Most organizing systems use principles that are based on specific resource properties or properties derived from the collection as a whole.

    (See “Organizing Resources”)

  • How do businesses differ in the ways they organize people?

    There are a huge number of ways to organize people that differ in the extent of hierarchical structure, the flow of information up and down the hierarchy, the span of control for managers, and the discretion people have to deviate or innovate with respect to the work they have been assigned to do.

    (See the sidebar, Organizing People into Businesses)

  • What problems can arise when arranging physical resources?

    Some arrangements of physical resources are constrained or precluded by resource properties that might cause problems for other resources or for their users.

    (See “Organizing with Properties of Physical Resources”)

  • What are some of the ways in which the mind follows Gestalt principles and imposes simpler interpretations on visual sensations?

    There are always multiple interpretations of the sensory stimuli gathered by our visual system, but the mind imposes the simplest ones: things near each other are grouped, complex shapes are viewed as simple shapes that are overlapping, missing information needed to see separate visual patterns as continuous or whole is filled in, and ambiguous figure-ground illusions are given one interpretation at a time.

    (See the sidebar, Gestalt Principles)

  • How can built environments influence the expectations, behaviors, and experiences of everyone who enters the space?

    Built environments can be designed to encourage or discourage interactions between people, to create a sense of freedom or confinement, to reward exploration or enforce efficiency.

    (See “Organizing Built Environments”)

  • How can we define the activity of “Information Architecture” using the language of the discipline of organizing?

    It is straightforward from the perspective of the discipline of organizing to define the activity of information architecture as designing an abstract and effective organization of information and then exposing that organization to facilitate navigation and information use.

    (See ““Information Architecture” and Organizing Systems”)

  • What is materiality?

    An emerging issue in the field of digital humanities is the requirement to recognize the materiality of the environment that enables people to create and interact with digital resources

    (See “Organizing Digital Resources”)

  • Why is the level of measurement important when organizing numeric data?

    The level of measurement (nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio) of data determines how much quantitative organization of your data will be sensible.

    (See “Organizing With Descriptive Statistics”)

  • How can statistics help organize a set of resources?

    Statistical descriptions summarize a set of resources, and reveal other details that enable comparison of instances with the collection as a whole (such as identifying outliers).

    (See “Organizing With Descriptive Statistics”)

  • What factors affect the organization of resources?

    Multiple properties of the resources, the person organizing or intending to use them, and the social and technological environment in which they are being organized can collectively shape their organization.

    (See “Organizing with Multiple Resource Properties”)

  • What is the fundamental tradeoff faced when organizing physical resources?

    The tradeoff between the amount of work that goes into organizing a collection of resources and the amount of work required to find and use them is inescapable when the resources are physical objects or information resources are in physical form.

    (See “Affordance and Capability”)

  • What are affordance and capability?

    The concept of affordance, introduced by J. J. Gibson, then extended and popularized by Donald Norman, captures the idea that physical resources and their environments have inherent actionable properties that determine, in conjunction with an actor’s capabilities and cognition, what can be done with the resource.

    (See “Affordance and Capability”)

  • Does supporting more interactions mean that an organizing system has more capability?

    We should not assume that supporting more types of interactions necessarily makes a system better or more capable; what matters is how much value is created or invoked in each interaction.

    (See “Affordance and Capability”)

  • What does it mean for a resource to be accessible?

    A resource is only accessible when it supports interactions, and it is ineffective design to implement interactions with resources that some people are unable to perform.

    (See “Affordance and Capability”)

  • Why are techniques for transforming the format of a resource or its description important in achieving accessibility?

    Many of the techniques for making a resource accessible involve transforming the resource or its description into a different form so someone who could not perceive it or interact with it in its original form can now do so.

    (See “Affordance and Capability”)

  • What is the basis of value creation when interacting with a digital resource?

    With digital resources, the essence of the interaction is information exchange or symbolic manipulation of the information contained in the resource.

    (See “Value Creation with Digital Resources”)

  • What factors improve the usability of digital resources?

    The variety and functions of interactions with digital resources are determined by the amount of structure and semantics represented in their digital encoding, in the descriptions associated with the resources, or by the intelligence of the computational processes applied to them.

    (See “Value Creation with Digital Resources”)

  • What is preservation?

    Preservation of resources means maintaining them in conditions that protect them from physical damage or deterioration.

    (See “Preservation”)

  • What is the relationship between digitization and preservation?

    Preservation is often a key motive for digitization, but digitization alone is not preservation.

    (See “Digitization and Preserving Resources”)

  • What are curation and governance?

    The essence of curation and governance is having clear policies for collecting resources and maintaining them over time that enable people and automated processes to ensure that resource descriptions or data are authoritative, accurate, complete, consistent, and non-redundant.

    (See “Curation” and “Governance”)

  • In what ways can computation improve the maintenance of resources?

    Data cleaning algorithms can eliminate duplicate data, search engines can improve the relevance of results using selection and navigation behavior, and sensor data can predict when machines need servicing.

    (See “Computational Curation”)

  • For what reasons is discarding resources an essential maintenance activity?

    An essential part of maintenance is the phasing out of resources that are damaged or unusable, expired or past their effectivity dates, or no longer relevant to any interaction.

    (See “Discarding, Removing, and Not Keeping”)

  • What is the role of governance in business organizing systems?

    Governance is essential to deal with frequent changes in business organizing systems, data quality management, access control to ensure security and privacy, compliance, deletion, and archiving.

    (See “Governance in Business Organizing Systems”)

  • How is governance different in scientific organizing systems?

    Scientific data poses special governance problems because of its scale.

    (See “Governance in Scientific Organizing Systems”)


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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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