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Signal vs. Noise
The role of information architect is featured at Web Worker Daily today:
A couple of great blog posts by Peter Merholz – Emergent IA and Gene Smith – How do people co-create information environments? touching on topics surrounding emergent IA. There is also some follow up discussion in the IAI mailing list.
So, summaries from the IA Summit have been coming out - the most recent at Boxes and Arrows, now in its 5th year of Summit coverage. See session-by-session descriptions and reflection for
- Overview and Preconferences
UXMatters also has a summary posted, a reflective take from one summit attendee that's illuminating.
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.
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.
I like Dan Saffer's diagram looking at interaction design and information architecture (PDF) through the lens of what kind of products each practice addresses. It's concrete, instead of the hand-waving turf war some people enjoy. It reminds me of Marti Hearst's quadrant from CHI2001 panel on measuring IA (requires IE, see slide #2 'A Simple Taxonomy'). The axes for the quadrant were complexity of content and complexity of applications...
Peter van Dijck expresses frustration with the slow pace of new thinking in his information architecture research agenda. Lots of good response on SIGIA and the aifia-members lists that Peter sums up on his blog.
In particular, the question of whether we need more research, or whether we need more innovation is important. While basic research is valuable, many of Peter's points revolve around cross-training with other disciplines like business management or ethnography...often a quicker win for practitioners.
The problem of a slower flow of new ideas is also from maturing practice - our current tools are good enough to get by, so we aren't as motivated to find new tools, even though they might be better.
What’s the level of interest among information architects and web developers in implementing A-Z indexes on their sites?
Why don’t we see more indexes? I attempted to answer this question in a posting an essay to IA-WIKI Web Site Indexes, although I have not yet received any comments there.
My sense is that even if information architects are interested in implementing A-Z indexes, they do not have the time, inclination, or skills to do it themselves (unless they are former librarians who had taken a course in indexing). Indexing is similar, yet distinct enough from category or taxonomy development to require specific training or study from a course or book. Yet information architects might not even know where to find contract indexers.
As indexing is a very established profession, it is probably easier for people who create web sites to look up indexers, than for indexers to try to target people creating web sites. Most indexers belong to the professional associations of their country, which maintain searchable online directories of subscribing members and contract job posting bulletins.
Gene has an interesting post about personal information architectures, something he spoke about at the recent Future of IA Retreat. While the recent interest in social classification and folksonomy is a large reason to talk about personal info. architecture, I think that Thomas Vanderwal has also been talking about the issue for a few years as the Personal Info Cloud.
Peter Morville spent some time in the library this summer looking for research related to information architecture. He just published a list of freely available papers, categorized by broad topics like navigation and search. Useful stuff, but heavy reading at times.
Lou Rosenfeld shares some more IA heuristics, this time focused on search.
Gene Smith has collected quite a few presentations on Enterprise Information Architecture. If you can’t get to one of Lou’s EIA seminars, or if you’re wondering if you should go, this is a great place to wrap your head around EIA.
Lou Rosenfeld offers up his set of heuristics for information architecture. Much more useful for evaluating findability than Jakob and Rolf’s original usability heuristics that were developed in DOS days.
“The Public Broadcasting Metadata Dictionary Project is a cross-organizational, multi-disciplined effort to establish a standard for all public broadcasting content (radio and television), in order that metadata might be more easily exchanged between colleagues, software systems, institutions, community partners, individual citizens, etc. The Project will be a “touchstone,” a single, streamlined standard to which other database structures, including those of PBS, NPR, major producing stations, and other asset/content management systems will be “mapped.” It can also be used as a guide for the onset of an archival or asset management process at an individual station or institution.”
The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture announces the IA mentoring program.
AIfIA members now have the chance to share experiences with leaders in the field through the institute’s new mentoring program. The IA mentoring program aims to improve the skills of current and future information architects by providing them with the opportunity to be mentored by an experienced IA. Mentees must be AIfIA members, but mentors do not.
Information Architecture and Findability is Peter Morville’s contribution to the UX roadshow circuit. Boston, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. will all be Fall stops - $695 US for the day for early registration (reasonable compared to IA Summit workshops, still spendy for students and folks out of work).
Of course, with PeterMo findability comes to the fore: "The biggest problem on today’s web sites and intranets is findability". That’s true more often than not, and the workshop looks like it provides good groundwork for up-and-coming findability specialists.
One of the challenges for people offering workshops is balancing depth with broad appeal. I’d be interested to hear any thoughts from workshop alumni for Adaptive Path, Rosenfeld & Krug, or others…was the workshop too general? Or was it too specialized or over the heads of attendees?
In the May issue of EContent Tony Byrne discusses Enterprise Information Architecture. He begins to ask two questions: “Why do Enterprise Content Management (ECM) projects take so long to implement? And why do they fail with such alarming frequency?” He quotes both Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville and stresses in his own words:”…there are no textbooks for practicing IA in large, decentralized environments made up of content silos” and “There is a bit of a tendency in the IA community to over-invest precious energy in KM-esque intellectual debates about ontologies and topic maps, when thought and research could better be applied to more pressing issues, like how to build compelling business cases for a corporate EIA team”.
There is still a possibility to attend one of the Information Architetcture seminars with Steve Krug and Louis Rosenfeld held in Washingthon, DC and Seattle. Louis is talking about enterprise IA and Krug about usability problems and “how to make low-cost/no-cost testing an everyday part of your company’s design process”. More details at Louisrosenfeld.com
The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture (AIfIA) is pleased to announce the opening of the Information Architecture Library, an international collection of the best articles, books, blogs, guides, reports, and other resources related to the field of information architecture.
The IA Library was developed by Joanna Markel and Jeff Tang, two graduate students at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. Chiara Fox, Austin Govella, and Peter Morville provided support and served as mentors.
“Jeff and Joanna designed and built a fully-functional user interface and content management system for the Library. That’s quite an accomplishment for a single-semester independent study project!” says AIfIA’s president, Peter Morville.
The IA Library’s collection is still very much under development. We are adding new resources, particularly in languages other than English, to create a more well-rounded collection. In addition, AIfIA is actively seeking a volunteer Library Director to oversee the continued development of this important public service.
If you are interested in volunteering to help with the IA Library, or if you know of a resource we should include, please send your suggestion to email@example.com.
To explore the Information Architecture Library go to: