Indexetera — Indexing et cetera
My own articles
Some basic questions about indexing and information architecture.
What is findability?
Findability is the availability and convenience of finding information and things in real as well as virtual environments. (See also selected article)
What is an index?
An index is an efficient guide to 1) locate specific contents in a given publication, or 2) locate specific items in a given collection. An index is arranged in a different way than the publication or collection it refers to. Alternative access points as well as relations between index entries are essential features of an index. Concordances, tables of contents, sitemaps, and topical overviews are not indexes.
What is the plural of index?
Indexes as well as indices. However, since Shakespeare’s time “indexes” is the correct plural in any bibliographic context.
Aren’t authors the most suitable indexers?
Authors know best what they have written about. However, the thought processes of writing and indexing are fundamentally different ones. Authors are only good indexers if they know how to treat their writings from a reader’s point of view; if they are able to overcome their exhaustion after the writing process; and, above all, if they do have the necessary skills and software to produce professional indexes. More often than not, the latter is not the case. In short, you can’t learn professional indexing within one afternoon! (See also selected articles)
Wouldn’t automatic indexing be possible?
Only as little as your pencil or keyboard could write a text itself. Conceptual analysis is beyond automatic indexing. (See also selected articles)
What is information architecture?
IA is a vast new field dealing with methods and techniques of how to efficiently organize and find information, especially within, but not restricted to, an online environment.
What is vocabulary control?
A means of how to deal with synonyms and meaningful relations among terms used for information retrieval. The degree of control may vary and depends on the kind of vocabulary actually employed.
The Society of Indexers (Britain) as well as the American Society for Indexing are the largest professional indexing organizations. Both of them publish journals and run annual conferences.
The Information Architecture Institute is an international forum for IAs. The special interest group of The American Society for Information Science and Technology was one of the very first IA organizations around.
First of all, a key article about findability written by findability expert Peter Morville.
The next two articles discuss the pros and cons of authors as indexers. Professional indexer Martha Osgood shows all major factors authors should consider prior to starting any indexing project.
These two articles deal with the shortcomings of automatic indexing. Indexing and IA consultant Seth Maislin also points out that automatic indexing should not be confused with dedicated indexing software.
The following articles are recommended reading when it comes to evaluating site search engines as an option of information retrieval. In the first article, indexer Kevin Broccoli explains the advantages of site indexes compared to site search engines. Next, usability expert Jared Spool’s article may be a revelation to people who think that site search engines are the best and only option they need. However, information architect Peter Morville counters in that site search engine technology can be useful indeed, provided that information architects are involved in search engine configuration and vocabulary control.
These commented examples show the usual styles of indexes (German only).
My own articles
The index reviews are mostly in German.
The guest editing for both special issues was mainly done in English.
This is a small selection of indexes to German-language books done by Indexetera.
These two examples of indexing projects refer to an East-Asian discipline. The web site consists of about 1,000 web pages. The magazine is a quarterly founded in 1977.
The following web sites and Indexetera link each other.