Pace layering in ia is a paper by D. Grant Campbell and Karl V. Fast from the Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario. They bring pace layering theories from ecology and environmental science into information architecture, viewing ia as an “ecology”. Basically, ecologists have noted that events occurring over different timescales interact to affect an environment – something like the lowering of the water table would be a slow event, but a flash flood would be a fast event. Only by looking at the ways these differently “paced layers” interact, can you predict how the local environment will respond. They propose that the underlying ia of website, with taxonomies and embedded nvigation structures etc., is a slow layer but that folksonomies bubble away as a fast layer of the site, changing rapidly and responding quickly. They suggest that the most stable structure will be one that can accommodate both fast-moving and slow-moving layers and that the slow layer must be robust and flexible enough to adjust itself to pressures from the fast layer.

I don’t think I have grasped all the implications of this, but my first impression is that it fits well with the “best of both worlds” approach – encouraging social tagging but not relying on it for critical information management, while using the folksonomic tags as feedback for updating and reviewing taxonomies.