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A New Taxonomy for the Information Age

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Bloom's Taxonomy was groundbreaking when it was published in 1956. Its 2001 update further clarified educational skills and how they build upon one another. The information age has changed the game of knowledge attainment and usage. Here, I offer a new taxonomy for the Information Age

In the industrial age, memorization was important because we didn't walk around with access to all information ever known and published in our pocket. The internet and smart devices have changed that.

7 Steps of the Taxonomy for the Information Age

Like Bloom, use of a taxonomy structure is important for presenting how each step builds upon the one before it.


Steps 1 & 2: Precursors to Information Access

In the information age, access to the internet and the ability to read and comprehend are essential. Without access to the internet, information cannot be obtained. Without the ability to read and comprehend, the information is out of reach. Only 64% of the world's population has access to the internet; only 84% of the world population is literate.

Though 93% of the U.S. population uses the internet, less than half (46%) of Americans between the ages of 16 and 74 are proficient at reading (Gallup 2020). Further, just 63% of 4th grade students are at grade level in reading according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP, 2022).

Lack of access to the internet and illiteracy are significant barriers to information acquisition, application, and creation.

Steps 3 & 4: Finding Information and Vetting It

With access to and the ability to read, individuals are equipped to begin their pursuit of desired information. The internet contains an infinite amount of information on an infinite number of subjects. How does an individual find what they are looking for and know that it is accurate and reliable?

There is no Dewey Decimal classification to the internet. Its structure is amorphous. Individuals can enter key words and phrases into their favorite search engine. Search engines return results from websites by continuously scanning the internet and indexing the pages they find.

However, it is on the individual to discern the information presented by the search engine. This most closely represents early critical thinking skills. We must determine what is factual and separate it from opinions and misinformation. Further, individuals must be diligent against disinformation. Disinformation is false information deliberately spread to deceive people. Discerning facts from fiction requires knowledge of source and perspective. Who or what produced the information I am reading? What is their perspective? What do these aspects lead me to believe about the validity of the information?

Disinformation is so proliferate that even the United Nations has taken a stand on its harmful effects.

Steps 5 & 6: Using Existing Information

Steps 5 and 6 require an individual to take the information they have obtained and use it. It is used to do something, communicate to others, and can be synthesized across information sources to summarize and draw conclusions.

Here, the individual is using information in the service of application, communication, and/or to make a case about what is known. Beyond critical thinking lies our own thoughts and feelings about the information we have taken in and how it will be used. Many consider this ability to be a form of emotional intelligence.

Step 7: Creating What Doesn't Exist

Step 7 is the apex of this taxonomy, as it was of Bloom. Not only is the individual able to use existing information in service of doing, communicating, and judging; they are able to create something entirely new.

With machine learning and artificial intelligence, much of what humans do today will be automated; much already has. We are left to ponder what is truly human: creation. Creation is a skill that brings not only happiness to the creator but adds value when thoughtfully used (e.g., human centered design thinking).

New ideas, concepts, services and products come from the creativity inside each of us. As an educated society, we must provide the tools necessary to reach this level. We can do so by using real life experience and simulation to practice basic and higher levels of critical thinking (i.e., emotional intelligence) to create for ourselves and others.

According to Deloitte, "creativity and social intelligence in particular are likely to be essential skills for most new jobs created between now and 2030. Because these skills give humans a clear advantage over machines and software, they also offer protection against developments in automation, making jobs future-proof."

A Call to Action

I hope that this taxonomy serves as a call to action for all who care about the future of our society. We must address the issues of equity and access with regard to internet availability and increase literacy across populations. Simultaneously, we must teach how to critically discern information from disinformation and misinformation. Increasingly machine learning and artificial intelligence will be able to replace human doing, but humans will always be called upon to create.

The complexity of our world requires creative thinkers and doers.

It is imperative that more time be spent in real life experiences and simulations to stimulate and practice critical and creative thinking. Our society depends on it.


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