Blogging was where we began, and how we built our company so we have preserved this archive to show how our thinking developed over a decade of developing the use of social technology inside organisations

Who owns the linkages?

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Louis Rosenfeld’s musings on an entrepreneurial model for the development of enterprise infomation architecture (EIA) lead him to consider Enterprise IA as Intellectual Property. The immediate questions are: who makes it, who owns it and who will fight to protect it

What might constitute EIAIP? It’s the aspects of the information architecture that help unify a site across business unit silos. Because it pertains to the entire enterprise’s web presence, EIAIP is something that no one business unit should ever own, as their own perspectives will bias its design and application.

More concretely, what might count as EIAIP? Here are a few ideas:

  • Metadata standards (both structural, such as schemas, and semantic, such as controlled vocabularies)
  • Determining appropriate algorithms for relevance ranking of search results
  • The logic for selecting and ordering best bet results
  • The selection of guide pages linked from a site’s main page
  • The logic for determining how to link objects in a content model (a.k.a. an ontology or a semantic web)

This is actually a far more interesting and multi-faceted question than it first appears, as for many organisations the ownership of a model of content linkage represents a major asset. We have often argued that our clients who are 2nd tier organisations, often in the public sector, should seek to create and own the “map” of their own territory in the form of metadata standards or a schema for linking together existing metadata. For organisations that contain fairly autonomous business units or highly devolved departments, this issue is a lot trickier than it looks, especially if attempted centrally.

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