Wurman’s LATCH model from this week particularly stood out to me as a good rubric for organization, as it rang true from my experience using a number of task-managing applications. In trying to juggle all the things I do, I’ve looked at a lot of applications that use a “Getting Things Done” (GTD) model. This is an approach written about by David Allen, who advocates organizing the tasks you hope to complete by grouping them into projects, but also viewing individual tasks based on the location where they can be completed (i.e. “my apartment” or “campus”), the time by which they need to be completed, or the resources that they require (i.e. “my laptop”).
The only significant difference between the GTD rubric and Wurman’s seems to be the addition of resources. I think that the degree to which they overlap means that the two rubrics are both quite accurate, perhaps even exhaustive, in spelling out the ways to organize information. The addition of resources makes sense, as Allen’s rubric doesn’t merely present information, but shows information about things that you’d like to accomplish. Since finishing a task means changing the state of something (i.e. going from “I haven’t called to tell Mom ‘Happy Birthday’ yet” to “Wished Mom ‘Happy Birthday’”), it makes sense that the tools required to do so would be added to Allen’s rubric.
The GTD model has become quite popular among programmers and other heavy users of applications in the last few years. I think this is both because these people have many things to accomplish but also because the GTD model presents an interesting set of things for an information architect to grapple with: each user has a database of actions, each with facets such as location, dates associated with it such as due and started, category, tags, hierarchical information such as project or importance, etc. If anyone is interested in looking at a variety of interface designs, I’d recommend looking at this category of application to see the designers’ approaches.