Peter Morville offers a thoughtful perspective on the battling twins of control and creativity that shape information architecture. He lists a number of complex adaptive systems: examples that include collaborative filtering, reputation management, and cooperative cataloging. I looked to similar systems as inspiration for bootstrapping the Yellow Corp. Intranet, referring to them as examples for mindful autonomy: independent actors, tasked with a similar goal and a cohesive outcome.

An example Peter doesn’t include is the Open Directory Project. Perhaps the Internet’s most comprehensive directory, the ODP is powered by tens of thousands of volunteer editors [not surprisingly, I edit Recreation/Food/Drink/Coffee], each of whom works autonomously, though with singular purpose, and with a number of tools to foster collaborative communication.

While you’re there, be sure to read Peter’s In Defense of Search, a well-armed response to Jared Spool’s Nielsenesque potshots at on-site search.

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