Thursday, September 8, 2011

Favourite books

I’m often asked if I have a “can’t live without these books” list for for my professional interests. Well, yes, I do have such a list and, no, I wouldn’t have been able to do some of the work I’ve done - at least not as well - without them. I certainly would’ve struggled had I not had them. Some of them I’ve had for a while and read through several editions. Others are relatively new kids on the block but I highly rate all of them. They’re all good value for money though one is stupidly expensive (I’m not going to say which one!). So, what are they?
My top Information Management titles, in no particular order, are:
Information Architecture for the world wide web (the ‘polar bear’ book)
(Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld)
This is probably the best book yet on the subject of creating information spaces. Although the main thrust of the book  is creating user friendly websites, the principles apply to any information space. Written from the perspective of librarianship, it covers all the essential elements of information management and them some.
Information Strategy in Practice (Elizabeth Orna)
All organisations produce and consume information on a daily basis but is it understood what elements of that information are critical to the success of the business? This book explains what an information strategy is, why organisations need one and how to produce and develop a strategy that is relevant and appropriate to any business. The whole area of strategy and policy is a hard one to grasp, let alone implement but this book shows the way in a thankfully jargon free style.
Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy (Ann Rockley)
This book examines the role of content within organisations, how to redeploy that content to avoid duplication of effort and how to create a unified content strategy. The book’s not just about strategy though as there are tons of practical advice and examples of how to take control of your organisation’s content. The appendices are a vital compliment to the book and contain a wealth of practical and useful guidance.
The Content Management Handbook (Martin White)
This book sets out in clear and simple terms how to introduce a content management solution into you organisation, what stages are involved and why it’s important to have a clear and detailed plan.
The Content Management Bible (Bob Boiko)
This is probably the mother of all content management books and contains everything you could possibly wish to know about the subject. It’s certainly not bedtime reading and some have commented that it contains too much information to be really useful. I disagree. Yes, it’s a big book and yes, some elements could have been covered more than adequately  in less words, but for sheer enthusiasm of subject and breadth of coverage, it’s worth it.
The Accidental Taxonomist (Heather Hedden)
This is a very interesting book. Most people who work in information have been (or will be) charged with creating some sort of navigable or findable solution to a content problem. A proper response will inevitably involve some sort of categorisation of topics or terms, but where do you begin if you haven’t previously been involved with traditional ‘cat and class’ or, you know you should create some sort of controlled vocabulary but don’t know where to begin. This is the book that will unlock the mysteries of that arcane practice that was once the preserve of Linnaean A types. One of a kind.
The Social Media Survival Guide (Deltina Hay)
There are a number of topics available covering social media in its various guises but none of them are as relevant, thorough or user friendly as this. I reviewed this book a while back and am happy to say that it’s still the best of its kind. Covers every important issue in social media and provides a very decent set of forms and templates to get your social media profile and presence up and running.
I’ve also found these really useful:
Tagging; people powered metadata for the social web (Gene Smith)
A great discussion of social media tagging and the relevance of folksonomies and group participation. People powered metadata is as relevant and useful as experienced practitioner produced and automated metadata. Covers the topic from a user and an implementer perspective.
Information Architecture: blueprints for the web (Christina Wodtke)
Contains some very honest and practical examples of how to design information spaces that are useful, engaging and inviting. If it’s well designed, people will use it. A compelling argument.
Don’t make me think: a common sense approach to web usability (Steve Krug)
Like ‘blueprints’ above, this title contains a wealth of wisdom and advice for creating useable information spaces which are intuitive and appealing to users. The fact that it does so in a semi comic book way, reinforces the overall message and questions why anyone would deliberately create anything that made people think.
and these are the organisations whose publications I find invaluable:
AIIMThe content management organisation par excellence. If you want to know anything about the ‘content profession’ this is the place. White papers, toolkits, guides, events and training are all provided.
The freepint groupA great collection of eContent for info pros everywhere.
for copywriting, where’s there’s a real dearth of UK titles, but I really like:
all by Andy Maslen. I’m also a frequent visitor to the Sunfish Copywriting Library. There are other good resources but I find these particularly useful. I also appreciate the style and delivery.
What books (or resources) can’t you live without?