Foundations for Organizing Systems defined an organizing system as “an intentionally arranged collection of resources and the interactions they support.” An organizing system emerges as the result of decisions about what is organized, why it is organized, how much it is organized, when it is organized, and how or by whom it is organized. These decisions and the tradeoffs they embody are manifested in the four common activities of organizing systems—selecting resources, organizing them, designing and supporting interactions with them, and maintaining them—which we described in Chapter 2. Chapters 4-10 progressively explained each of the parts of the organizing system: resources, resource descriptions, resource categories and collections, and interactions with resources—introducing additional concepts and methods associated with each of these parts.
Along the way we described many types of organizing systems. Sometimes we discussed broad categories of organizing systems, like those for libraries, museums, business information systems, and compositions of web-based services. At other times we described specific instances of organizing systems, like those in the Seed Library, the Flickr photo sharing site, Amazon’s drop shipment store, and your home kitchen or closet.
We can now build on the foundation created by Chapters 1-10 to create a “roadmap” that organizes and summarizes the design issues and choices that emerge during an organizing system’s lifecycle. These design choices follow patterns that help us understand existing organizing systems better, while also suggesting how to invent new ones by making a different set of design choices.
The roadmap is extensively annotated with references to the preceding chapters where the issues and choices mentioned in the roadmap were introduced and discussed in detail. We will use this roadmap to analyze a variety of case study examples in Case Studies, and to explore the “design neighborhood” around each of them. The design questions from Foundations for Organizing Systems serve as a template to give each case study the same structure, which we hope enables instructors, students, and others who read this book to add to this collection of case studies by contributing their own at