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Off the top
Signal vs. Noise
From the recent East Coast IA Retreat comes a low-fi sketch of IA Manifesto 2.0 (I had nothing to do with creating it, but it struck a chord with me)
1. we need bad theory (comes before good theory)
2. We will not discuss definitions.
3. What do we do with RSS?
4. We talk and talk about how to document ajax interactions... but not about
what it means
5. Need to leave the website behind.
6. We will not discuss deliverables.
7. An IA comic book?
8. need to re-integrate with the rest of the world
9. deliverables are decoys while we're figuring out what we're doing
10. every 2 hours, there shall be 1/2 hour of non-ia talk
11. we're in a position to make a difference, but not doing much about it
12. all the interesting stuff is happening outside of ia
13. we are web 1.0
14. we're stuck in our (well paying) client relationships
15. we need to be unemployed again to innovate
16. we're conservatives at heart. Paying the bills.
17. we're not discussing cool new ideas, we discuss wireframes.
18. we're too good at what we do right now
19. we're dinosaurs
20. ...and tagging is a small, furry animal
21. in other words, if a comet was to crash, we'd be fucked.
22. if we build consensus within IA, we're doing something wrong
23. the IA putch is very close to being screwed
24. IA's might have to stop being generalists
25. or become more generalist again.
Andrew Hinton took a pretty good swing at a manifesto a few years back.
MAYA Design and the IA Institute are hosting a day long workshop User Interfaces for Physical Spaces on Monday, December 12 in Pittsburgh. The workshop will showcase MAYA's work redesigning the physical and information space of the Carnegie Library...if you haven't had the chance to look at MAYA's slides from Adaptive Path's User Experience Week, it's a fascinating blend of physical and information architecture (Scroll to the bottom of Aradhana's bio page for links to the presentation).
The workshop will include field trips to various library branches as well as time at MAYA's offices in Pittsburgh. Cost is $200 for IA Institute members, or $250 for non-members (hint: IAI membership is $40 and gets you in to DUX at a reduced rate too). Registration will open soon - in the meantime, hold the date.
Expero has launched a new blog at Free Usability Advice. With folks like John Morkes, a regular speaker at NNGroup events, you're getting free advice from world leading practitioners. In the multitude of UX blogs, this is definitely one to watch. Kudos to Dave Crow for putting it together.
Congratulations to Peter on a book that expands on information architecture to look at human information interaction. If you order from Amazon using this link for Ambient Findability, Peter will get a little something extra for the sale...and given that IA book writing doesn't pay that well, it's well deserved.
Gene Smith riffs on Ian Davis' take on why tagging is expensive. In a nutshell, the lower costs of classification are traded for higher costs in finding content. Gene makes much more sense of it than just that, though. At the end of the day, as with so many things, tagging is a great tool, but not a silver bullet.
David Weinberger, (author of Cluetrain Manifesto and Small Things Loosley Joined) gives us a sneak peek at where he's going with his latest book Everything is Miscellaneous...a treat for IAs that won't get published until late 2006/early 2007.
Heidi Adkinnson takes a longer look at Serena ProcessView Composer and Axure RP She also mentions that ConceptDraw has a new release coming up with WebWave.
Besides Heidi's take, Microsoft has developed a new tool for UX developers codenamed Sparkle. This Channel 9 video has an hour long segment on Sparkle. This is a tool to create UI that can be reused in .NET development, instead of throwing away comps and prototypes...looks very interesting.
I am a web department manager / interactive producer who is looking to transition into information architecture and would like recommendations on certification or other avenues for more education. I have conducted user testing, and provide wire frames and flowcharts to the design team I manage for ecommerce websites. I've been working in interactive for 10 years, but my focus has been more on account management and consulting and I'm soft on design. I would like to expand my UI skills and hope to get an entry level IA position in the Chicago area.
At this point I'm not sure where to start. This is a rather new field. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
[editor: This is an excellent question - How can people get into IA? Comments appreciated!]
I don't do as much formal specification writing these days as I used to, but I've been noticing some promising software for prototyping and specification writing lately. Could be that I've become so entrenched in the Visio world that I never pick my head up to take notice any more.
I downloaded the demo version of Axure RP ($589 for Pro, $149 for Lite version) after quickly viewing their Flash demo. This Windows only tool allows you to build a page hierarchy for a site and then design the pages by dragging and dropping widgets (like Visio stencil objects) onto the wireframe pane. As with Visio, you can link widgets to other pages and then generate the document as an HTML prototype. What intrigued me most was the Microsoft Word specification document that it produces, providing the wireframes with notes for all of the page objects.
Software like this seems like a real time saver for rapid development, which is the kind of work I've been doing a lot of lately without the actual prototyping bit. That is to say, I turn over informal specs and wireframes on short schedules. To be able to handle all of these tasks in one tool seems great. Anyone have any experience using this or similar tools? Which do you like best?
On October 18, Julie Mazza, formerly Manager of Law Firm Partnering at DuPont and now Director of Legal Expense Control at Citigroup, will share her experiences in an informal roundtable at the offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York. Space is limited. For details, see http://www.montague.com/rou ndtable25.htm
In the early 1990's, DuPont began to look for ways to reduce its legal costs and leverage the know-how of its legal suppliers, especially outside counsel. The company created a new way of working that shifts the focus from processing lawsuits to resolving the corporate client's business problems.
The result was the DuPont Legal Model, which includes strategic partnering, early case assessment, use of technology, alternative fee arrangements, and strategic budgeting. Information technology is used for electronic invoicing, integrated case management, electronic research (discovery), and document imaging. DuPont's cost savings are in the range of $ 8 million to $ 12 million per year. This is knowledge management in action with measurable results.
This event will be of special interest to legal information practitioners in both corporate legal departments and law firms. Others will benefit by learning more about a professional services collaboration model that successfully combines technology, strategy, fees and incentives, and training.
See also our article, "Managing knowledge in law firms: is it really different?"
Remember that this is not a training session. It's a discussion forum for experienced practitioners.
The roundtable will be offered in both face-to-face and teleconference format. The cost for face-to-face attendees is $600 for members of the Society of Knowledge Base Publishers ($850 for nonmembers). The cost for teleconference attendees is $700 (members), $950 (nonmembers)
At dinner a couple weeks ago when I was in SF, David Weinberger and Peter Merholz came up with the silver bullet of interaction design: Sliders! All interaction that is a selection should be a slider! Amazon is on the same wavelength, their new AJAX diamond search is sliderlicious heaven! [update: this is all in fun, sliders do have issues, see comments for more.]
Seriously, it's a great AJAX example. Still seriously, there's issues (like showing active options that don't actually exist - set the price to $100-$1000, and the next slider, for carats, doesn't show you what the carat range is that intersects with the 'under a thousand dollar' price. Greying out the inapplicable options, and moving the slider to the top of the actual carat range of sub-$1000 rocks would be good).
The Information Architecture group started by EmWi on Flickr never took off, but snowcrash has started the IA Discuss group to share screenshots of UI widgets, deliverables and such. It's an idea similar to Christina's Widgetopia, but on Flickr. Jess wanted to something like this a few years ago on this site, but we never go to it. Flickr seems the easiest place to do it. Not sure why no one has bothered to make use of the Information Architecture Flickr group like this before.
Todd has got a nice mix of enterprise metadata from both theory and practice since he did his dissertation at the same as working at Bell South on real enterprise metadata needs. He has presented at several conferences involving both the more techie stuff at DAMA International as well as Dublin Core and other related conferences. I believe this intesection of the techie/practical world and the theory/academic world gives us a good mix of the challenges we face at managing information systems. He's definitely in the mix of things I'd like to be involved. It will be interesting to see where his blog goes in sharing his experiences. Many of his previous presentations and handouts are also available on his site.
There's a new blog on tagging - tagsnomony.com that disturbingly has just one IA on board. It's a symptom of a more general trend - as classification and personal information achitecture become more pressing, more and more people are talking about IA, but who aren't aware of IA. More to the point, IAs aren't really getting involved in the conversation either...either through indifference or inability to adapt to emergent methods from our foundation in traditional classification methods.
Update: Don Turnbull is an IA stalwart from UT Austin's Info School. Sadly, 1/8 isn't great (though Dave Weinberger is producing the smartest writing on emergent classification, but Dave's not doing implementation, in-the-trenches IA work).
Update #2: Reinforcements arrive! Gene Smith and Peter Merholz are now added to the fray at tagsonomy. Thanks to Jon Lebowsky and the rest of the Tagsonomy crew for being so welcoming. I'm glad to see some IAs stepping up to contribute to the conversation...
Lou Rosenfeld shares his Enterprise Information Architecture Roadmap. This update reflects the insights Lou's gained after using it in consulting and teaching it in his EIA seminars across the US. Great stuff - I think that there's definitely an enterprise imperative for effective IA, but that we need to co-opt or cooperate with other enterprise architecture efforts.
Last week, an article in the NY Times named poor user experience as a barrier to engaging with several exhibits that are part of the Boston CyberArts Festival. The article focused more on how deeply frustrating the User Experiences were, rather than the quality of the artwork. I made a trip to see the exhibits this weekend; here's a summary of the article, photos of the exhibits, and a recap.
37 Signals publicly launched Backpack today - an online personal info manager that's part wiki, part to-do list, part file storage. The best thing so far is being able to use email to add content to pages (each page gets a unique email address). You can even set up a to-do list with email, or add files to pages simply by attaching them to an email and sending to the specific page. There's a free version, and plans from $5-$19/month.
Lots of interesting thinking - I hope that the email-back-into-the-system feature gets implemented in Basecamp soon.
The New School of Ontologies is just so off the mark. Not that social classification isn't valuable, but a folksonomy is *not* an ontology. And facets...my goodness. The article reads like a jumble of classification buzzwords stirred once and regurgitated.
Ontologies are semantically-connected nodes - there's meaningful types of relationships between terms (has-a, is-a, requires, and lots lots more). Free tagging doesn't generate any semantic relationship at all.
It's interesting as the folksonomy meme drives more people to talk about IA issues how little many people know about IA concepts...
The USDA did an anemic job of redesigning the food pyramid; Slate asked four design firms to come up with something better. The official Canadian redesign is worth a look, too. Of course, the food guide in both countries represents a political process as much as a nutritional educational process, something not tackled by even the best information design.
Congratulations to Javier Velasco and everyone else who created the IA Chile site! (Spanish only, but gorgeous even if you have to muddle through the content via Google Translate).