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The Discipline of Organizing

This book changed my view of organizing as the dull, tedious task of putting things in order into thinking of it as the marvelous study of how people add structure to things … Glushko is the master of the discipline of organizing, painting the fascinating story of how different organizational schemes change our behavior and our thoughts.

Don Norman, Author, “The Design of Everyday Things”; Professor/director, The Design Lab, UCSD



We organize things, we organize information, we organize information about things, and we organize information about information. Organizing is an important and ubiquitous challenge, and we can look to library and information science, informatics and computer science, cognitive science, business, law, and many other fields for concepts and methods that guide us in organizing. The Discipline of Organizing seeks to unify these diverse perspectives about organizing with the concept of an organizing system, defined as an intentionally arranged collection of resources and the interactions they support.

Every organizing system involves a collection of resources, a choice of properties or principles used to describe and arrange resources, and ways of supporting interactions with resources. By comparing and contrasting how these activities take place in different contexts and domains, we can identify patterns of organizing and frameworks that enable more effective multidisciplinary communication and collaboration. We can create a discipline of organizing in a disciplined way.

New for 2015: The Revised Third Editions

core-3e-lrgcoverWe are very excited to offer the revised, digital-only (pdf and epub) third editions of The Discipline of Organizing, published by O’Reilly Media, in two separate editions — the Professional Edition and the Core Concepts Edition — making the book even more effective and engaging as an academic text for courses in Information Organization, Knowledge Management, Digital Collections, Information Architecture, Information Systems Design, and other related fields, or as provocative reading for people who want to be more self-aware and effective about how they organize the resources they deal with in their personal and professional lives.

Both the Professional and Core Concepts editions contain substantial new and revised content about organizing people and the physical world around them, the role of values and ethics in organizing system design, and the importance of information architecture, accessibility, and behavioral economics.

To learn more about the new editions, including where to get a copy and how we can help support its use in your classrooms, click here.

You can also learn about different profiles and strategies for teaching with TDO from the presentations and reports of the conference workshops held in March 2015February 2014, and October 2014 .

The Reviews are In

Glushko and his colleagues have become the ‘go-to’ for undergraduate and undergraduate introductory courses in information. Their argument that information is fundamentally about the discipline of organizing is subtle but powerful.

John Leslie King, University of Michigan


A veritable compendium of techniques and principles in the IT and LIS fields … ideally suited as a textbook and a substantive reference text.

Elaine Svenonius, UCLA


This current edition continues to further define and refine IO in a data intensive world, where everyone, regardless of his or her intellectual and work space, is grappling with the challenge of making sense in a complex, data- and information-driven environment.

Ed Cortez, University of Tennessee


From the student perspective, it hits a sweet spot, balancing thoroughness and comprehensibility … this book was exactly what I needed.

David Hansen, UNC-Chapel Hill

Find all our collected reviews here.


Free Chapter Downloads

For instructors who only want to use a small portion of The Discipline of Organizing in their classes, or who wish to try out some of the material without committing to a purchase, several chapters of the first edition are still available as free PDF downloads; click here to access them.