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Since we’re all stuck inside (more or less), I thought I’d write some recommendations (and short reviews) of books in the information space (taxonomy, ontology, knowledge management, information architecture, content strategy, and data visualization, to be specific).

Living in Information, Jorge Arango

Arango (who is also a co-author of the canonical Polar Bear Book) describes digital spaces (on the screens we’re all staring at every day) as “places where critical parts of our lives happen” that have been usurped by ad- and rent-seeking entities. Arango uses architecture (physical architecture) to directly address these concerns. Arango’s easy style and sensitive, ethical bent make this book a pleasure.

How to Make Sense out of Any Mess, Abby Covert

Covert’s book is simple, thoughtful, direct, clever, and applies its own organizing principles. This was the exact book I needed when I was trying to figure out what people meant by information architecture.

Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist, Dean Allemang and Jim Hendler

On the more technical side, Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist is an excellent reference guide and practical manual for modeling in OWL and understanding the Semantic Web. No light read, but I found it extremely useful and it’s become a standard reference in the space.

Learning Sparql, Bob DuCharme

Another standard reference, DuCharme’s Learning SPARQL is pretty definitively the go-to book for getting started with the eponymous RDF query language. The book includes examples and exercises as well as the above-linked website.

Designing Connected Content, Carrie Hane & Mike Atherton

Situated at the intersection of content strategy, content design, and content management, Hane and Atherton provide an overview and outline of a process to build a structured content framework. I had encountered pieces of content-centric ideas more or less in isolation and this book helped me see the whole picture from the content strategy point of view.

Envisioning Information, Edward R. Tufte

When I was new to the information space and thought I had thought pretty deeply about how to visualize information, this book quickly taught me that I, in fact, had only scratched the surface. This classic text broke me down and woke me up.

A Taxonomy of Office Chairs, Jonathan Olivares

Unlike the other authors on this list, Olivares is a designer in the “classic” sense: a designer of physical objects. And there has long been mutual interest between the digital and physical design worlds. This serious-but-whimsical book cleverly dissects the modern office chair and traces its evolution with examples and illustrations. (For reference, I currently use the Herman Miller Setu Chair, for which I do not regret springing when I first started working at home.)

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Bob Kasenchak @TaxoBob