02 May Organizing Information: L.A.T.C.H.
People regularly ask me for better frameworks for organizing information. I balk, because I want people to look at their data, research, and projects and try to do something that is natural, or inherent to the information. But that’s really hard…and a lie. I use basic heuristics all the time…and as it turns out, there’s really only five ways to organize things.
But first, a movie interlude from High Fidelity:
In this scene, we see that the basic ways we would guess to organize a record collection are Chronological (by album release) or Alphabetical (artist or album?) …I would also guess genre. Genres are tough, because there is so much overlap (blues, blues-rock and bluegrass…I’m sure there are artists that span those)….and what’s amazing is that Autobiographical organization seems like such an innovative (and hard!) way of organizing information… but it’s still time. It’s just *personal* time, instead of absolute time. Which is awesome.
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Enter Mr. Richard Saul Wurman, who coined the acronym “LATCH” and “the five hat racks” in his 1989 book Information Anxiety. He claims that there exactly five ways for organizing information and the acronym “LATCH” helps you remember them:
But, as we see in High Fidelity, a category like Time that seems straightforward can have nuances.
Also, as the second video points out, combining or overlaying multiple types of information organization can create amazing results. Working with teams to create organic or relatable categories is an important process. We each may have our own ways of looking at and “chunking” the data. Sharing and agreeing on the right categories can be an involved process. The same is true of Hierarchies. Size, cost and complexity might be easy to agree on, but how to we organize objects from most important to least important? Importance or value, as separate from cost, are fuzzy terms. Parsing that out can have a big impact on how you organize your data.