An idea to LATCH on to: how to organize any field of information

This might be one of those “duh” concepts, but when I first encountered it, it was oddly more like “a-ha!”

The task of organizing information has never been more vital. We are now awash in information. What makes information useful is how it is organized. The discipline of organizing information can be called “information architecture.” And to keep that idea going, anyone who works to organize information can be called an “information architect.” So a skilled journalist can be an information architect. Editors and page designers, yes. Infographic artists, of course. Web designers. All sorts of people involved in communication.

There is a simple tool that can help anyone become an information architect. It’s easy to remember, too. You can thank Richard Wurman for it. Here it is: LATCH.

  • Location: Where something is physically located: maps, parts of a cell, addresses
  • Alphabet: Listing of text ranked by alphabetical order: rosters, phone books, encyclopedias
  • Time: Duration or placement in time: dates, time spans, timelines, processes
  • Category: Groupings of things by something they have in common: think of departments in a department store or sections in a newspaper
  • Hierarchy: Ranked by values, either quantitative or qualitative: money, height, military rank, size, importance

Applying one organizational factor against another is how we get things like charts and graphs, and insight. For example: the value of stock prices (hierarchy) of tech companies vs. manufacturing (category) over three years (time).

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