Nathan Shedroff: The V-2 Interview 1/2

    If IAs (and others) want to be taken seriously and gain back some of the stature they've lost in the last three years, they should start with turning down the volume on the entitlement and righteous indignation, and opening their eyes to a lot of other people who know a piece of the evolving puzzle that is called the customer marketplace.
Adam Greenfield interviews Nathan Shedroff to talk very candidly about Experience Design and Information Architecture. It's part 1 in a 2 part series that's turned out to be a lively debate with significant clashes occurring between the concepts of experience design and information architecture. Shedroff offers some succinct definitions that characterize ED as an umbrella encompassing a lot of smaller roles. I've tended to accept this classification to some extent, but found Shedroff's perceptions of the smaller roles (and the people who inhabit those roles) to be rather unclear at times (IA is not Information Design in my opinion) and condescending at others. It is interesting to read his perceptions of IA, however, particularly with regard to the growth of the field, the ability of IA's to view projects within a broader context. I disagree with those opinions as well.

At one point Shedroff also mentions Information Theory, stating that more IAs should be conversant in it. I found that amusing. I know that many of us come from LIS backgrounds, so there is no doubt that many IAs have some knowledge of that literature, but am wondering how they factor that into the work they do. For me, the experience of studying and working on Information Retrieval is informed by a lot of IR literature, but as a generalist, I rarely point to specific theories in order to make decisions. Shedroff also mentions Wurman, but I have no idea what Wurman has to do with Information Theory. Maybe this has to do with the fact that he lumps information architecture with information design.

In any case, it was a very open conversation -- with opinions that should be aired in the public in this manner. Looking forward to part 2.

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forgive the self-promo

I've written a lengthy response to the first part of the interview.

a warning sign

Claude Shannon, the author of Information Theory, wrote an article about the "bandwagon" - folks that cited Inf Theory in all sorts of contexts where it doesn't really apply, or is of marginal use. This is one of those times. Nathan is citing it just to sound profound when he really isn't. Information Theory may be used metaphorically here, but doesn't provide any particular insights for the information architect that cannot be found in common sense.

Exactly

Thank you. That is why I found his reference to Information Theory so amusing. He implies that he might actually know something about Info. Theory, but to mention theories one has little knowledge of only serves to make one look clumsy and false.