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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

Creating a commons for sampling information architecture and data structures

posted: Dec 18, 2003 10:44:03 PM

One idea I have had about the iCite net is that it can be an interesting way to share information architecture and data structures. Right now, those of us who work with these carry them around in our heads and on pieces of paper, and maybe in some visual modeling formats like Visio, entity relationship, or UML diagrams.

But, I think it would be nice to publish these online in a format that could be directly built-upon and inherited from. And, in particular, I think it would be interesting to have a more real-time means to publish these structures as they evolve on live sites and systems.

What I imagine is a kind-of sampling mechanism where you can see the actual structures in use in a system or on a site, and directly build on them. For example, you would access a website's "live" document search taxonomy, and you would inherit that structure and re-use it, including possibly extending it.

Your extensions could be incorporated into the original, or simply linked to it. Multiple architectures could develop around the same content, or the same architectures could be used across multiple repositories of content.

I imagine this being, in some cases at least, an alternative way to develop standard data-interchange structures. Rather than getting many parties to agree on a standard in the abstract, people would simply build and/or sample the parts of the "live" structure that they need and allow others to directly re-use them and evolve them into new structures.

I think, with this mechanism, it would be easy to support many variant structures, and for variants to be reconciled with common denominators. (Obviously, not in every case!)

This idea has been part of the motivation for the iCite net from the start, but I hadn't thought about it as being like audio / music sampling (which I also do) until hearing about the new Creative Commons sampling license. Hearing about this new license helped me think about how "sampling" is also an essential tool used in the creation of new information architectures and data structures.

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April 30, 2003

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