Dalia R. Levine is the Ontologist at HBO in the Media Management and Taxonomy department. Previously, she worked with non-profit taxonomies to enhance search and classify thousands of documents. She teaches and guides other librarians in nontraditional fields and encourages them to communicate the value of their skills in business environments. She is active with the Information Architecture community and is always thinking of good questions.
What’s on your IA/UX/Content Strategy “nightstand” reading pile?
I’m reading Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil which I recommend.
Machine Learning needs librarians and IAs. Liminal Thinking by Dave Gray was my fall reading and I have kept it on my desk for reference. I found it useful for this year, for life in and out of work. And I am dipping in and out of Designing Together by Dan M Brown; Design for Real Life by Eric Meyer and Sara Wachter-Boettcher; and Blind Spot by Steve Diller, Nathan Shedroff, and Sean Sauber. I tend to read non-fiction in the morning and fiction in the evening.
What/ who is your creative muse?
I have an extensive shelf of books from Rosenfeld Media, O’Reilly, and A List Apart. I tend to grab the books as needed and find some inspiration by flipping through them. I keep near my workspace the set of four Field Guides to Ensuring Voter Intent by Dana Chisnell. These simple guides are useful for more than civic service and I find I can flip through these guides and find inspiration. Also on the bookshelf is Like You’d Understand, Anyway, a collection of short stories by Jim Shepard. Jim is a writer I admire, and his stories remind me of the power of narrative with characters who are real and weird. Jim’s incredible book of stories is there to try to remind me of when to put details in and when to take details out.
How did you find IA/UX/Content Strategy? What drew you to it?
With an allergy to dust, an archive or museum or an old building with lots of books is not for me. In previous jobs and library school, I liked how software can be built to organize information. I got into indexing, and then taxonomy work, and found I really like the how information can be arranged. I strongly believe and stick to the moral principle from my librarian training of watching for consequences of categorization and ensuring access to information.
At the IA Summit, I found I really like to learn how people use information and how IA draws from an array of disciplines. I love being with people who think more visually than I do. The people at the IA Summit come from a mixture of backgrounds. At my first IA Summit, I realized how I could ask questions to anyone. I have to credit Lou Rosenfeld for saying “Welcome” after I gushed about how I’ve found those who think like me all gathered in one place.
Who are 5 practitioners that you follow on Twitter?
It’s hard to pick 5. I even tried grouping them into categories, since I am a taxonomist and I usually end up classifying things anyway. The categories were past and current co-chairs of the IA Summit; speakers and presenters at IA Summit, World IA Day, or Theorizing the Web; social justice activists; librarians; archivists; internet and security activists; taxonomists, etc. The five I want to know what’s on their minds are:
- Alberta Soranzo @albertatrbela
- Daniel Newman @creativenewman
- Peter Morville @morville
- Data & Society @datasociety
- Duane Degler @ddegler
- And more!
What are your favorite tools of the trade? Why?
Paper and pen. When I take notes, I listen better.
If you could become instantly smarter one one subject, what would that subject be and why?
Languages. I would love to wave a wand and be able to communicate in any language with a decent accent that fits the location where I want to use it. Context
How/where do you “start” a project?
I tend to start by taking notes. It always helps to go back to what I wrote down.
If you could choose a capstone project for your career, what would it be? Why that one?
I don’t think I know the cap yet. I am very proud of the content and the experience we presented at the 2016 IA Summit. And I’ve heard from past colleagues who say they think of me when they go to organize something or deal with organizing their documents or media. That’s nice to hear.
Name an educational resource (book, website, publication, etc) that you turn to regularly?
Rosenfeld Media, Boxes and Arrows, anything by the polar bear authors – Lou, Peter, and Jorge, and wherever my curiosity leads me, as long as I can verify the
What is one of your guilty pleasures?
Reading detective mystery fiction and discussing it with our book group. Opera but also plays and musical theater. Rock music. Museums… which means many forms of art. I try to take advantage of living near New York City.