Peter Morville has an interesting new article at New Architect: Bottoms Up. In it he advocates more bottom-up design, reacting against overly reductionist top-down methods. But I think his philosophy is actually a balance of the two, and he's trying to advocate this balance. Take this excerpt:
I have been flabbergasted in recent months by taxonomy construction projects in Fortune 500 companies. Some completely lack user research, and there is often a fierce resistance to discussing how the taxonomy will be used. Let's just focus on the taxonomy, they say. We don't want to get distracted by implementation details.
Interestingly, I've been experiencing the opposite scenario. Recently I've been meeting people, usually technologists toking at the XML pipe, who only want to do bottom up design. When I ask, 'Who are the users? What are their intentions? What is the scope of your project?' I find a lack of solid answers. Balance (of top-down and bottom-up) is my new rallying cry.