Rashmi Sinha has an outstanding post analyzing the information-finding affordances of Google Base. For people who are interested in learning some of the basic concepts in modern information architecture (IA), she does a great job of illustrating key ideas. (You may want to fire up another browser window and play around with Google Base while reading her article in order to make it more concrete.) For people who are a little further along in their education, the post has a great analysis of IA trends in general and strong review of Google’s new interface in particular. Here’s one observation that I particularly appreciated:
Finally, what’s most interesting about GoogleBase is that it corroborated what I have believed all along – tags and search don’t replace facets, categories and other information architecture concepts. I can imagine a tag-based, del.icio.us like GoogleBase – input your information and find others’ information serendipitously. But Google wants people be able to find information in a predictable, intuitive manner and for that it has to rely on a combination of categories, facets and tags. It did not reinvent Yahoo’s directoy – instead its an innovative way of using all three. Tags are a brilliant innovation and can do many better things better than other methods. But the rumours of the death of classification, facets etc., have been greatly exaggerated by experts such as Clay Shirky.
She strikes a great balance between appreciating the value of tags and resisting the hype around folksonomies. Tags are great. Categories are great. Facets are great too. They all (should) work together.
Finally, there’s an interesting little throw-away in her piece that caught my attention: Google has only twelve top-level categories at Google Base, and one of them is “course schedules.” What are they planning for the education market?
(Found via elearningpost.)