design & data

vertM2Whoever said “More information is always a good thing” never went looking for a simple answer to a simple question.

Xarktopia  works in the emerging field of Information Architecture at two vastly different scales: Very small and very large.

For small businesses looking build an affordable and effective communications plan, we get right to the basics: Goals, resources, assets and structure.

Small-scale information architecture can be as simple as a user-friendly outline for a custom website or a logical structure for a questionnaire. This is the kind of work that many business people could probably do on their own — if they had the time or the staff. We’ve found that many website and publication problems began with a designer who came up with “the look” before taking the time to understand the information. It’s like designing an office building to look good around a cool conference table you’ve already built.

There are plenty of low-cost communications options for small businesses and organizations, and we recommend several of them. There’s also no shortage of fashionable “boutique” design shops that can give you a website that looks like a work of art, or a logo that will win them awards. Some of these outfits deliver brilliant work. Others just drop off websites that won’t load, can’t be viewed on mobile devices, and drive customers nuts.

We start with the foundation. We ask questions, organize the answers into a workable structure, and deliver a solution that fits your needs — not some stock “custom” solution we wanted to sell you in the first place. We’ll even help you organize your information before you take it to one of the low-cost options.

At the very large scale, Dan’s experience implementing news taxonomies and his work as a consultant on a 2009 data repository project eventually led him to a simple insight: If news organizations used existing ISO standards to code the individual facts in their articles, they could create proprietary databases that would expand in value over time. That’s important, because in the current business model, reported information loses all market value at the end of its original news cycle. Dan’s maxim: Give away the documents, sell the data.

His published proposals for the creation of a semantic content management system, or SCMS, attracted the interest of investors, media innovators and system architects. However, industry interest in the “Informatics Scenario” for media innovation essentially evaporated with the widespread return to new variants of the old paywall plan for newspapers between 2009 and 2012. Dan remains interested in the SCMS and a related standards-based approach to media reform, but is no longer contractually involved in any work toward developing the SCMS concept into a product.