Information Architecture for Entrepreneurs 2.7: Blocks
This blog is part of a larger class called Information Architecture for Entrepreneurs to help entrepreneurs effectively build their ventures.
The basic building blocks of systems are objects, channels, and energy. These objects combine into basic structures that are repeated over and over again across many different platforms. The combination of many basic structure form larger systems.
A block is a combination of base pairs into a larger structure.
Pools of information occur when there is depth of information under one heading. A user can dive deeper into these clusters and then emerge again. In Google Drive, these are pools of folders, or organized objects under one heading. In Slack, these pools take the form of threads that are smaller side-conversations within larger channels. Here people, instead of files, are in a pool.
In each structure, pools allow for greater focus and specificity around a more targeted topic.
Streams are used when systems have continual updating content. Streams are good for aggregating objects together. In the case of Twitter, the core object of the platform is the tweet. Users follow certain hash-tags or people, and in turn get a chronological stream of tweets that relate to these topics.
Entrepreneurs should integrate streams into their systems when they have continually updated content that is relevant to a large number of their users, and time is the largest factor in terms of what objects users find useful and engaging.
Feeds are a specific type of stream that organizes information not simply chronologically but based on an algorithm. Components of this algorithm can include highly upvoted content, relatedness to the user, and globally trending topics, amongst many other factors.
Entrepreneurs should utilize feeds when they have a large amount of continually updated content, and a very good handle on what myriad factors contribute to user engagement.
Collections are groups of related objects. In Google docs, a Collection is composed of documents around a central topic. On Pinterest, a collection is composed of images that users have collected from other users or their streams that all share the same topic. For example, on Pinterest users can create boards around healthy eating, and save their own recipes and the recipes of other food bloggers.
Entrepreneurs should utilize collections when their platform has objects that have lasting relevance. These platforms grow value the more people add objects into their collections, because the simple act of aggregation means that users have a lower energy demand needed in their daily lives because of the platform. Once a collection of healthy food is created, users can more easily choose what to make for dinner. Users can also transfer collections to other people, which lowers the energy demanded of another user.
This is a specific kind of pool of information with the connection being a specific user. This kind of pool is also constructed from a combination of the user’s own content and the content of other friends. The most famous construction is the Facebook wall.
A profile is a public accumulation of information on a specific user. Profiles depending on the goal of the larger community can store different kinds of information. On Facebook, a profile has a user’s collection of photo albums, their location, their relationship status. All of this data harkens back to Facebook beginnings as a sort of address book to find attractive connections across college campuses.
On Reddit, a profile has a user’s reputation score on it and communities in which they are active. This reputation score is the accumulation of the positive karma the user has gotten in their interactions on Reddit. This relates to Reddit’s overall goal as a platform where users contribute content to specific communities.
Entrepreneurs should utilize profiles when there are person-to-person (like Facebook) or object-to-person (like Amazon) interactions. Profiles are especially useful when tied to an aggregation mechanism. On Facebook, people build pools of photos that makes the network have more staying power. On Amazon, users build reputations that are displayed on their profiles. Previous positive reviews contributes to a higher reputation score, which in turn contributes to more people buying their products.