Facet (noun.)

Definition: Any aspect, piece of knowledge or feature of something that can be used for sorting and retrieval.

Also referenced as: Facets (noun)

Related to: Classification, Object, Taxonomy, Thing



The word facet was used 13 times across 4 pages


Chapter 6: Play with Structure | Page 107

A facet is a discrete piece of knowledge you can use to classify something. The more facets something has, the more ways it can be organized.

Using the record store as an example, the following facets are available for each record:

  • Record Name
  • Artist Name
  • Record Label
  • Length
  • Release Date
  • Price

If a particular facet is interesting but the data to support it doesn't exist or is hard to gather, it might not be the best plan to use that facet.

For example, finding out which instrument models were used on each album may be interesting, but it is also likely to be quite time-consuming to collect.



Chapter 6: Play with Structure | Page 108

What are five other facets of a vinyl record?

  1. _______________________
  2. _______________________
  3. _______________________
  4. _______________________
  5. _______________________

Consider:

Now search Google for "John Cusack organizes records autobiographically" and think about the facets that Cusack's character would need to sort his collection that way.



Chapter 6: Play with Structure | Page 114

The world is organized in seemingly endless ways, but in reality, every form can be broken down into some taxonomic patterns.

Hierarchy, heterarchy, sequence, and hypertext are just a few common patterns. Most forms involve more than one of these.

A typical website has a hierarchical navigation system, a sequence for signing up or interacting with content, and hypertext links to related content.

A typical grocery store has a hierarchical aisle system, a heterarchical database for the clerk to retrieve product information by scanning a barcode, and sequences for checking out and other basic customer service tasks. I was even in a grocery store recently where each cart had a list of the aisle locations of the 25 most common products. A great use of hypertext.

A typical book has a sequence-based narrative, a hierarchical table of contents, and a set of facets allowing it to be retrieved with either the Dewey Decimal system at a library, or within a genre-based hierarchical system used in bookstores and websites like Amazon.com.



Chapter 6: Play with Structure | Page 116

Because your structure may change a hundred times before you finish making it, you can save time and frustration by thinking with boxes and arrows before making real changes. Boxes and arrows are easier to move around than the other materials we work with, so start there.

Try structuring the mess with common patterns of boxes and arrows as shown on the next page. Remember that you'll probably need to combine more than one pattern to find a structure that works.

  1. Assess the content and facets that are useful for what you're trying to convey.
  2. Play with broad and shallow versus narrow and deep hierarchies. Consider the right place to use heterarchies, sequences, and hypertext arrangements.
  3. Arrange things one way and then come up with another way. Compare and contrast them. Ask other people for input.
  4. Think about the appropriate level of ambiguity or exactitude for classifying and labeling things within the structure you're pursuing.