Bob Kasenchak is a taxonomist and information architect at Factor. Bob’s background is in music, and this conversation delves into what information architects can learn from studying music. We recorded two conversations on the subject: this one focuses on the structure of music itself, and the second covers how we can make music more findable. Look for that one in an upcoming episode.
- Bob Kasenchak - LinkedIn
- Bob Kasenchak (@taxobob) - Twitter
- Access Innovations
- IAC: Information Architecture conference
- Duane Degler
- Gilles Deleuze - Wikipedia
- Félix Guattari - Wikipedia
- New England Conservatory
- Sonic Design: The Nature of Sound and Music by Robert Cogan and Pozzi Escot
- 1/1 by Brian Eno (YouTube)
- Rick Beato - YouTube
- What Makes This Song Great? Ep.61 VAN HALEN (#2) - YouTube
- Ludomusicology - Wikipedia
- Abby Covert
- Apple Music Classical app
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Jorge: Bob, welcome to the show.
Bob: Thank you, Jorge. I’m glad to be here.
Jorge: Well, it’s a pleasure to have you. I’ve known you for a while, mostly overlapped with you at the IA conference, the Information Architecture Conference, which is… I’ve long considered it something of my like professional home conference, you know? That are my tribe of people. And you are a prominent part of that tribe, and have been for a while. Folks listening in though might not be familiar with you and your work. How do you go about introducing yourself?
Bob: Well, my name is Bob Kasenchak and I usually self-identify as a taxonomist. Although, these days my title is information architect. It took me a little while to come around to the idea that as a taxonomist, I am an information architect. But I think I’ve fully embraced that, at this point.
So I work at Factor, which is an information architecture consultancy based up in Seattle. I’ve been there for almost a year and a half. Before that in the industry I worked for Synaptica which is a leading software company, and before that for Access Innovations, where I got my start learning about taxonomy and designing taxonomies, and we had software there as well.
I came into the field sort of orthogonally. I like to describe myself as a recovering academic. I was still working my way through a Ph.D. In music at 35 when I suddenly realized I had made a terrible decision and that they don’t make jobs for those people anymore. And got out and was seeking another career path and sort of accidentally landed in information science and I love it here.
I’d love to dive into your background in music and how it informs your work as a taxonomist. But first, when you were introducing yourself, you said that you think of yourself as a taxonomist and that now you have the job title of an information architect, and that made me wonder about the relationship between those two things. What’s, in your mind, the relationship between being an information architect and being a taxonomist, if any?
Information Architect vs Taxonomist
Bob: I think that as it’s currently practiced — and I base most of this on my involvement in the same community that you described the Information Architecture Conference, which I also consider something of a professional home — that information architecture as currently practiced, is a pretty large field that ranges from, I guess, on one end, a very UX/UI-facing discipline with designers who are working with digital interfaces. And all the way on the other side of that spectrum is the people who deal with how data and information is configured and modeled and molded to be able to be delivered via those interfaces. And I think that the discipline stretches all the way between those two poles.
When I first got into the field and when I first went to the information architecture — at that time — Summit, which was about 10 years ago, I almost felt a little bit like an outsider. There were a lot of people there doing UI and UX and design and fewer people doing taxonomy, except in the sense of navigation taxonomies, which is maybe something we can get into. But… which is a little bit then, sort of a backend logical information structure. And it’s evolved. I think there are far more people doing maybe what you would call hard IA now, or at least more speaking about it. And there’s a mix of designers and data modelers or however you want to think about that side.
So I think that the field encompasses that entire range of practice. Some people work in the middle where they do both kinds of things. I’m thinking, for example, of Duane Degler who’s both a designer and a data modeler par excellence. But I feel I’m very much still on the data modeling semantic side because I don’t do interface designer or anything like that. So it took me a little while to come to grips with this sort of idea! And so I thought, yes, they’re interested in taxonomy in this community, but it’s a little bit orthogonal.
And I almost felt like a slightly an outsider or interloper. But my perspective has changed because they very much come from a human computer interaction perspective. Whereas how I was trained was very much from a library and information science perspective. But I think my perspective has changed and I now see myself as part of that broader ecosystem. I’m making a circle with my hands, like your listeners can see it.
Part of that is… and that I still do definitely inhabit one end of that spectrum but I feel much tied into the broader practice and I feel like that negotiation between the people who design things that people see and the people who design the information models and structures that get delivered there… that interaction between the people who do that is critical because if you’re missing that link, that’s not good. That’s not good information architecture.
Jorge: Listening to you talk about it brought me back to that time when the Information Architecture was more broadly focused on what we would now call user experience design. And obviously that’s an area that has grown and specialized in many ways. And I get the sense that the information architecture community, as represented through this conference, has indeed kind of narrowed its focus onto this overlap between these two circles in the Venn diagram, where it is about the user experience to some degree, but it’s the user experience as it’s affected by semantic structures of some sort.
Bob: I think I would agree with that, and I’m wondering now talking to you about it, if the user researchers are the glue in the middle of that Venn diagram that hook the user-facing interface people with the backend, modelly-semantic people. If that necessary human connection is the user researchers who are doing that thankless hard work, which has also evolved, Jorge, as a discipline, and become codified.
And there are various methodologies and there’s like… oh, there’s a ton of people doing this work. But maybe they’re the glue that we really need to make sure that we still have to tie the… again, the front end, the stuff you can look at, to the information that you’re looking for.
Jorge: I’m glad you brought research in as well, because that does feel to me like it’s another discipline where you can find communities perhaps, that are more kind of narrowly focused on different aspects of research. But what’s interesting here, in what you’re saying, is where research practices come into informing these semantic structures that we’re talking about and therefore the user experience, right? And at least for me, the most interesting things happen at the boundaries where disciplines overlap and inform each other. And I’m getting this sense of information architecture being one of these disciplines that is actually a bunch of overlaps between other disciplines with a particular focus.
Bob: I think it is very interdisciplinary in that way, and that’s so fascinating because we get people from all kinds of backgrounds who do the stuff that we do. Or the stuff in the big Venn diagram that we’re talking about, who have backgrounds in… well, again, I came from academic music! But we have people who went to library school. We have people that went to design school. We have people that were auto manufacturing engineers and got tired of it and wandered their way into our space. And they all contribute to that interdisciplinary feel because… and you can see it in the talks, especially the variety of talks that we find at that conference. Just the perspectives!
A couple of years ago during one of the pandemic IA conferences, Aaron Leonard, my former colleague at Synaptica and I gave a talk connecting ontological and graph structures to French postmodernism, which was not something I think people expected. It went over really well. I don’t think I would push that topic much harder, but like… it’s that kind of… because he was an English major and has critical theory background and we started talking and we were reading Deleuze and Guattari and we decided to throw together this talk. And like, it’s that kind of thing where people bring all of those contexts from their other disciplines and then apply them to the work that we do in information architecture, that I think is fascinating.
Jorge: Well, that’s a perfect segue, I think, to asking about your background in music and how that informs your work as a taxonomist, because I get the sense that there might be interesting overlaps there as well.
The information within music
Bob: I think so, and I think there are a couple of things going on there. I mean, at its most fundamental level, music is information. Like any audio recording with words as content passed over a wire to communicate something to someone on the other end of the wire. Now, of course, there’s still live music even that is often amplified, but it’s not information that’s encoded in a way that’s unencryptable. What was Beethoven or Sun Ra trying to tell me in this piece that doesn’t have any words? Interpreting those things is an entire discipline of academic music, but it’s very culturally contextual and it’s very subjective and therefore subject to critical theory and all those things.
But there are certain things that we can do with music as information that… because I was a music theorist, I was concerned with analysis and models and shapes of things and their parts on how they interact. So, all those things come into play and can inform information architecture. How a piece of music engages with existing systems and listener expectations to either thwart them or sort of reward them for their predictions.
But really even on a simpler, most fundamental level, when I was at the New England Conservatory of Music, I studied with a woman named Pozzi Escot and her bailiwick was mathematics and music. And I was like, “oh, well I’ve landed in the right place!” And it starts very simply, Jorge. Like, let’s count!
Let’s take a very simple piece of music… say a chant. An early Gregorian chant, or maybe an 11th century chant by Hildegard Van Bingen. These are short vocal pieces. They have one line. There’s no harmony, there’s no polyphony. You have things like register, rhythm, pitch and words. But if we just take a chant and count the pitches in it. How many times did D occur? How many times did G occur? How many times? How many attacks were on each note?
We can make simple — and Pozzi does this, and has a book out — a simple histogram, showing the proportions between these things. And she delights in just finding simple mathematical proportions between things that we can count in music. Now, obviously a chant is a very simple musical structure. But she then turns her attention to later more complex musics and demonstrates simple mathematical proportions that she can find in Bach, say. Which is probably no surprise. Or even perhaps Bartók would be no surprise.
But even in romantics like Chopin, we can find these things. And then again, no surprise to find them in 20th century composers like György Ligeti who wrote very dense things with lots and lots of notes that she counted up and and started doing analysis with. What are the things that we can count? How long is the piece? What is the highest note and the lowest note. So now if you have a time… now we have a box that it exists inside in and we can sort of describe its movement in it.
I think that that intersection with complex systems and the sum of parts and all those things can come back and inform any kind of information study. Although I realize that the music and mathematics thing is a very well known sort of trope. Mathematics is heavily connected to music, but few people tried to explicate it the way that Pozzi did, and I had a great time doing that.
Jorge: That made me think of what we were talking about earlier: this overlap in disciplines and information architecture where things like research and semantic structuring… you know, creating taxonomies and so on can inform an experience. I’ve, seen the sort of charts that you’re describing, where a piece of music is represented — the patterns in a piece of music — are somehow represented visually. And in so doing, especially when contrasted with other pieces of music, you can get a sense for the kind of domain of that piece. It’s like what area — what range — does it cover, somehow? But that is not the music, right? That’s not the experience of listening to the piece. It’s like dissecting a frog: the frog no longer lives, right? And, I’m wondering, in hearing you talk about these histograms and identifying the mathematical patterns behind music: what is that in service to?
Music in math
Bob: I mean, I think it’s in service to greater understanding, to listening. Like, if I’m curious enough about a piece of music to go and acquire the score and then set aside some time with some graph paper and a ruler and sit down and start trying to dissect it, it’s because it’s interesting enough to me to want to know how it works. To try and understand what techniques and processes and models the composer was using in order to generate this piece of music that struck me enough to want to investigate it more. And some of it’s purely intellectual. But again, when you’re in academia, you have to do purely intellectual stuff and then write about it so you can point to it and say, “see? I did that.”
But I’m not in that situation anymore. So, like on the simplest level, any piece of music of sufficient length has parts. It has sections. It has a section that you might say, very broadly, waving your arm does this, and this section does this or sounds like this. And then perhaps the first section comes back. So you have three sections. The first and last of which are similar, and the middle of which is contrasting. So how long should those sections be in relation to each other? At a very fundamental level, composers have to answer this kind of question.
We think of it as you sit down and you’re sort of like, “well, what note should come after this one? Well, what note should come after this one?” The way LLMs like ChatGPT compose sentences, right? They’re very interested in what note should come next after the one that you just wrote, or the two that you just wrote. But really, it’s more of a totalizing vision. You don’t compose note to note to note; you have a big framework structure. You know how many sections you will have, how big they will be in relation to each other and how they contrast. Composing music is a design problem. It’s just a very abstract design problem. So just asking questions like, “what are the sections in this piece and how do they relate to each other?”
And one of the simplest ways they can relate to each other is in duration. So although it seems sort of dry, like looking at music from those perspectives and trying to answer just that question: how many sections does it have, and, how do they relate to each other, is a great place to start. That gets you out of the microscopic note to note thing and brings you up to look at the whole thing from the top down as an entire structure so that you can begin to parse it. Because you can’t begin to parse it by going one note at a time.
Jorge: I’m hearing there are two things. One is that the value in analyzing the work at this level… there is value in doing it if you are a composer yourself, so that you understand what the composer is doing. And like you’re saying, you might be trained to expect that there’s a particular note that might follow, or a particular cord that might follow. And then the composer might do something surprising and take you to a different place. And there’s intent there, right? Hopefully, you want to do this sort of thing intentionally. So, there’s value for the composer to study how other composers do it. And I think that there are analogs here with the design of software or the design of any other thing, right?
The purpose of analyzing musical structure
Bob: There’s something else important going on and what Pozzi Escot and her her late partner Robert Cogan were doing, starting in the seventies, that still resonates today, is they were very concerned in what they didn’t have words for, but today there’s sort of a debate raging in the music theory community right now, which I am not involved in anymore, but still see on Twitter and through other things online that I read. Basically, about like, most of the training that we supply to people comes from a 200-year period of music written by white men in Europe. They call it “music theory’s white racial frame,” and there’s inherent bias in the systems and there’s all these things. And all of that’s true. And so, in the seventies, when Bob and Pozzi wrote their book, Sonic Design, even though these issues weren’t quite in the zeitgeist the way they are now, they’re very concerned with having a framework to be able to analyze and talk about music regardless of where it came from.
If we look at music from its sections and totalities, we don’t care if it was written by Beethoven or Sun Ra or Balinese Monkey Chant or a Native American composition, which are… I only studied a little bit; they’re fascinating, or Japanese Court Music. It doesn’t matter what the tradition that the music comes from. The pitch to pitch things — the scales — aren’t coming into play at this level. We have a framework that is applicable to music from anywhere and by anyone.
And so, again, they were, I think, ahead of the curve on trying to do this sort of thing. And, of course, once you start to get into it, then you need to understand. How does Balinese gamelan music work? How does Western art music from the 17th and 19th centuries work? But at a certain level, there are approaches that you can take that are generically applicable. And of course, they were still developed by white people with Western ideologies and Western points of view. But at least it’s an attempt to get us outside of this white, European racial frame into, again, an attempt into a more neutral space where all kinds of music are welcome and can be looked at in this way. And we don’t have to talk about perfect authentic cadences in Mozart or something that’s very specific to a very small subset of music. We could talk about jazz. We could talk about pop music. We can talk about folk music. We can talk about music from different cultures in this way because all music has sections.
We might make an argument, Jorge, that we could get into at another time, about whether ambient music has sections or something like that. But most music has distinct chunks and parts that distinguish themselves from one another. And this perspective about them is part of an attempt to have a framework to be able to analyze and talk about and think about music in a way that’s not beholden to completely, and certainly not anchored to, Western art music in the same way that a lot of other traditional… when we say music theory, you think about chords and scales and pitches and rhythms and sort of the piano keyboard… and that’s all very Eurocentric. And they were trying to, at that time, to push the boundaries out to admit more things into this area of study and contemplation of music.
Jorge: I’m hearing you say that I’m thinking of things like the 12-note scale, right? Which is a particular slicing up of the possible spectrum of musical notes that you can hear that has arisen for historical reasons. And you mentioned ambient music. And I think I remember reading something by Brian Eno, who I’ve referenced in the show many times before, talking about ambient music in contrast to the Western musical tradition of annotated music meant to be performed in that way.
And this brings me back to the second… I said that I had heard one kind of use case for this kind of analysis, which was if you’re a composer. But the second use case that I heard in there, and I might have misheard, in which case, correct me, but it’s that it changes you as a listener as well, right? So, bringing it back to an ambient piece, I remember listening to Eno’s work, “1/1,” which is the first track in the ambient, “Music for Airports,” the Ambient 1 album, and I remember being enthralled, might be the word, by that piece. Enchanted? Hypnotized? I don’t know. Like, I was put in a different mental space…
Jorge: …without knowing how that piece had been made. And learning about how the piece was made somewhat changed my appreciation. Perhaps I’m also more familiar with it now, so I’ve heard it enough where it’s not as surprising, right? But knowing about how the thing was made, changed my listening experience somehow.
Bob: Did it? Did it lessen your appreciation somehow? Some people describe the experience of analysis of any kind of music as sort of deflating those magic moments. Whereas I think people who like analysis feel that that greater understanding enhances. And maybe that’s just two points of view. But somehow it just ruins it for some people. When I’m like, “oh, well, when Duke Ellington grabs that E flat seven cord here, which is not in the key that has borrowed from this other thing, it gives you a blue note thing, which…” whatever! And you have a framework that you can describe it and they either don’t care, or like are actually just repulsed and turned off by this kind of thinking. And that’s fair. That’s fair.
But I think for people who do like analysis, it’s because we want to dig into like how that was done. Now, you could easily make the argument — and I think it’s a pretty profound argument — that when we go to analyze music, because we bring our entire context and zeitgeist and training and all of the other things that make us up, to the music… And this is something I very much got when I was in my Ph.D. Program at Texas, there were a bunch of Ivy League-educated professors from the eighties, and so they were soaked in a lot of critical theory. And so, the sort of post-modernist point of view is that when you analyze a piece of music, the music is a mirror that you’re holding up to yourself and you’re learning more about yourself than you are about the music.
So, for example, when we had to study the history of music theory — Western music theory — in the early Renaissance, when polyphony first started to flourish and we got beyond chant to many voices singing together, people noticed in the 12-tone even tempered system that you described that chords of three notes of certain kinds sound really good together. And that we should use those all the time. Now, there is a physical — and when I say physical, I mean physics — there’s a physics-based reason for this about how overtones work and how resident frequency support each other. But what they glommed onto was like: “Three notes? That’s just like the trinity! God must want us to have three note chords!” And I’m only slightly exaggerating, but that’s essentially what the theory at the time says. The reason we’re doing this is because it’s holy. Not because the physical resonances of the overtones compound each other and make a pleasing seniority.
So, that’s a super easy example of how when we look at music or really any art… although music’s so abstract, it makes a great mirror, whereas things with words tend to push back a little bit on your interpretations because they have semantic meaning of their own. So, you know, grain of salt and all that. And like who doesn’t like encountering themselves in a mirror in a piece of art? So there’s something wrapped up in that as well.
Jorge: Well, this might be sacrilegious, but I wonder if that correlation flows the other way. Like, it might be that the trinity as a way of expressing the ultimate is, you know… it’s a three-point structure, which we have experience as being very stable in things like triangles and stools. There’s something about three-part structures that feel stable to people.
But to answer your question, if it somehow demystified the piece for me, the ambient piece, it did change my relationship to it somewhat. It’s not that it killed the magic, it just changed the way that I appreciate it. But I can think of examples where it went either way. Like, there are pieces that understanding them better has deflated the piece for me. But there are pieces that actually unpacking them has made me appreciate them more. And one that I can think of is: have you ever seen Rick Beato’s YouTube channel?
Jorge: There’s there’s this guy Rick Beato, who is a music producer. And he has a YouTube channel where he basically takes apart songs. And they’re mainly rock songs from like the sixties and seventies and some in the eighties; that seems to be his preferred genre. But but he’s pretty wide-ranging and he’s clearly a very accomplished musician himself. And in each episode he takes a song and he just plays different tracks and he explains what is happening with things like chord structures and melody and rhythm and all that. And he did one on the song Jump, by Van Halen, which I loved when I was younger. When it came out, it was a very popular song. And as I got older, I kind of discarded it as a song from the eighties that was kind of synth driven. And I just kind of grew to not like it as much as I did when I was younger. Well, and in this YouTube video — which I will include a link to in the show notes — he explains what makes that song successful and it totally brought a new appreciation of what these folks were doing. And now, I like it again in some way. Which is interesting. You know, it’s not something that I expected to happen.
Understanding while witholding judgment
Bob: And I think we have to be careful. I love that. I love that! And what it makes me think is that there are pieces… there are works that have depths that reward plumbing. That if you plumb the depths, there is a deeper relationship to be had with a ,piece. Whereas you had perhaps written it off as a top 40, synth-driven, you know, mid-period Van Halen radio hit. But then went and re-approached it, and it seems like there was more there to encounter.
And I think it has certainly become, even in the 20 years since I have left music school… has it been that long? Not quite! The study of popular music and even the study of game music has… the study of game music, Jorge, has launched an entire discipline called ludomusicology. They have journals and conferences. It’s not… I mean there are people out there studying. And it’s everything from what you would think, which is a large fantasy role playing with an orchestral score to like, what was the music and sound design in Tetris. These people are really interested in this.
But popular music, and the study and analysis of popular music, not that it didn’t exist before, it always has, but it has definitely gotten more cache in the academy. But we need to be careful I guess not to assign value somehow to that. It’s super tempting for me to say, “well, if I investigate a piece and find a deeper relationship with it, that’s a better piece than a piece I investigated and don’t find a deeper relationship with.” Because that has to do with me, as we already discussed. So it’s very tempting to sort of jump to a value judgment about that. Just because we find a deeper relationship with it doesn’t mean it’s better somehow. It’s a very hard temptation to resist… to not assign value judgements to works of art. I mean, it’s half of what social media is about.
Seeing structure everywhere
Jorge: Well, certainly generalized value, right? Because it can be valuable to you as an individual, like you’re saying. Although there are some works that are generally acknowledged to be masterpieces and, you know, for good reason.
I do want to now bring it back full circle, just to see… and this might be a leap that lands us nowhere, but but it’s worth a shot. When we first started talking about this, you said that music is information. And I’m wondering if there is something analogous about the study of music and this analysis, this kind of stepping back and — this is a horrible image, but — putting the frog on the dissecting table, if there is value in doing that for other types of information for people who are not information architects, who are not practitioners. Because you and I like… well, I’m going to assume that you do this because I do it and I’m in the field: I will look at something: a website, or a book, or any kind of… like a menu in a restaurant, and I can’t help but look at how the thing is structured. What language they’re using, what distinctions have been set up, what relationships have been set up. I can’t help it, because that’s what I do. And it’s part of the work, right?
But, what might be implied here, or I’m now trying to draw the analogy is: there might also be value for people who are not professionally doing this kind of work, to understand these information structures to maybe derive more value out of the works that they’re encountering. You know, maybe you appreciate a menu differently if you know a little bit about how this works.
Bob: I like your perspective here because I think we all do that once we’ve been in this field for a little while and I can’t remember if it was Abby Covert or someone else who was talking about– this was years ago — supermarket aisles as good information architecture, most of the time. Even though some of them seem suspect sometimes, but they’re designed to get people to where they need and out of the store as quickly as possible. And I love your point about menus. And this was… you know, the point isn’t that we can sit here and have an ontological debate about whether a hotdog is a sandwich. The point is, where do people find it on the menu? And, is it under sandwiches? And that’s really more of the interesting question. And I think that same approach is why I like music analysis. I feel like I’m dancing around your question a little bit. Is it a perspective that we can recommend to everyone? Or do we do the hard work of looking at things this way so that most people can come to them and don’t even see the structures and just get to the information that they need?
Jorge: Well, what I would contend, and I’ll circle back to the restaurant menu, is that the way that the offerings are structured in the menu is going to certainly help you find what kind of food they serve there or whatever. But it’s also going to frame that food in such a way that it changes how you think about the experience of eating there, right?
Jorge: And you and I shared a meal — a wonderful meal — at the latest Information Architecture Conference in New Orleans. And the menu in the restaurant where we ate had categories that you would not find in other restaurants, right? It was very particular to that restaurant. They had a wine list that was pretty extensive and the subject of much discussion at the table, perhaps because we were all information architects there. But my sense is that the way that that restaurant categorized the food… well, the food that they offered certainly informs the experience. But the way that they categorize the food also informs the experience in some way and sets the stage for what you’re going to eat there and what you’re going to think about what you eat there.
Bob: I think that’s right and that’s a great example. The restaurant, by the way, for listeners, was called N7 and it’s a French place, kind of slightly off the beaten path in New Orleans, and it was fabulous. And maybe the best wine list I’ve ever seen, although my tastes are biased. But that’s interesting. Let’s talk about that for a minute, because the wine list was very extensive and presented though with very small pages and many, many pages instead of a big book with fewer pages that sort of encouraged browsing and flipping through and experiencing its depth instead of going directly to what you were looking for, which I think is interesting.
And even if we think of something very simple… so we have a restaurant, Jorge, and we have a menu, and we have appetizers, and we have whatever, and we have entrees. So, we have our list of entrees. How are entrees usually organized at a restaurant? Are they alphabetical? No, they’re not alphabetical. Are they like, cheapest to most expensive? Well, not usually that either. Usually at the top of the entrees list are your featured or signature dishes, or the ones that you think define either your restaurant or the sort of… I don’t want to use the word ‘genre,’ but I’ll use it: genre or ‘mode’ of cooking that you’re using… the most characteristic or the most indicative dishes, are the ones at the top, right?
That’s a very interesting way to organize information that we don’t see in… that you could not get away within a larger environment. No restaurant has 700,000 entrees, so you’re not searching JSTOR for your entree. There’s a list that you can probably grasp one or maybe two pages. And so the question of how to organize that, so menu design must be a field. Is it a thing?
Jorge: Oh, I’m sure it is. And, well, you referenced Abby Covert earlier, and I think that she’s done work in menu design as an information architect.
Bob: Ah, it makes sense.
Jorge: Like, restaurant menu design.
Bob: Yeah, yeah! It makes a ton of sense.
Jorge: Yeah. Because, you know, it is the organization of information, and the takeaway for me from this conversation is that there’s definitely value in understanding how these things work. For those of us who are practitioners of the ‘art’ of organizing information, somehow — I’m using ‘art’ in quotes, right — of organizing information. But there might also be value in understanding and appreciating those structures as a ‘user’ of the system: user of a menu, user of a book, you know, user of a website. Just to understand what the intent is behind the structures that you are experiencing.
Understanding deepens appreciation
Bob: I think agree with all of that and I hope… and I know because we’re running up on time soon, but one of the things that we have been dancing around that we need to get into at some point is information about music and why Apple Music needed to have a different classical app because the information is different than how it is organized. And I’ve heard someone was doing the same thing for jazz. I can’t remember if it was Apple or someone else. But… so we’ll have to have another conversation to make sure we explore those things because we were very much on the edge of them during this conversation.
Jorge: Yeah, it’s funny because that was actually one of the things that was foremost in my mind when I reached out to you was that new Apple Classical music app. But I do think that it might be fodder for a separate conversation, but I’ll just say that I didn’t expect that we would end up talking about the substance of the music itself as opposed to how you describe the music and make it findable. And I’m kind of glad we did because that was an interesting place to land at, right? So maybe we leave the metadata part of it for a later conversation.
Bob: I would love that.
Jorge: For now, where can folks follow up with you?
Bob: So you can find me — as long as it continues to exist — on Twitter, @taxobob. I’m also more than happy to discuss things and hang out with other people in the field and other people. You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I do, at factorfirm.com which is my company’s website, post the occasional blog there. I’m not currently keeping my own blog, but my writings appear there sometimes.
Jorge: Fantastic. I’m going to include links to all of those in the show notes. Thank you, Bob, for joining us today.
Bob: jorge, thank you so much. It was a pleasure.