Information Architecture (IA)

Christina's teaching at User Interface 8

While many of our talented colleagues have or are currently offering courses at one venue or another, Christina Wodtke is offering the opportunity for you to shape her upcoming course at User Interface 8. Let her know in her site comments what you'd like her to cover in a day, particularly if you've read Blueprints. If there were areas where her book fell a bit short for you, this might be an opportunity to address something in more depth.

Relation Browsers: a GUI for IAs

Garry Marchioni and Ben Brunk have been working on GUIs for visualizing nodes and relations in web sites - what they call a Relation Browser. They've published a paper on their work about the quest for a General Relation Browser that provides a picture of IA tools of the future.

JoDI's usability of digital information page other interesting papers, but I won't list them all here.

One title to rule them all, one title to bind them....

Well, over on Beth Mazur's IDblog Dirk Knemeyer suggests that information design should assume a director role over all the other disciplines in a project and that IA isn't a discipline, but a tactical practice. Hope he wore asbestos undies ;-)

Seriously, I'm not sure that one can argue for ID, IA, or interaction design as the 'director' without also making the case for the other two disciplines. Experience Architecture or Design seems a better fit for said director role. I've said more to that effect in the comments on Beth's blog.

(thanks Gunnar)

IT & Society special issue on Web Navigation

On SIGIA, Dick Hill points out this journal. Edited by Ben Schneiderman, the Winter Issue of IT & Society was dedicated to Web Navigation and contains articles ranging from user frustration, to PDAs, to browser design.

IA Tools - The Comic Book Edition

Dan Willis has done a great job distilling core IA tools into 1 page explanations complete with quirky characters. Fun, and hopefully useful in explaining what IAs can offer.

Data visualization through facets

Pointed out by Steve Mulder on SIGIA: Iokio has a demo of a product selection tool that uses different facets to choose a digital camera. Sliders allow the user to adjust cost, weight, and resolution with real time feedback on available models. Thanks to Joe, who discovered a direct link to their Camera Finder Demo.

History of Semantic Networks

Matt Webb points to this great paper describing 6 different types of semantic networks. Applicable to the ontologists among us, semantic networks also make great diagram fodder. Not sure what a semantic network is?

A semantic network or net is a graphic notation for representing knowledge in patterns of interconnected nodes and arcs. Computer implementations of semantic networks were first developed for artificial intelligence and machine translation, but earlier versions have long been used in philosophy, psychology, and linguistics.

What is common to all semantic networks is a declarative graphic representation that can be used either to represent knowledge or to support automated systems for reasoning about knowledge.

IA is like...Dating!

Keith Instone pointed me to this great poster from CHI:
Dating Example for Information Architecture. Clever, humorous, and good for explaining IA to people who have no idea what a sitemap is, but have bought or received a dozen roses.

There's also a short write-up of the piece (280kb PDF) that Keith sent by email. If you know where the "official" location of the write-up is, please let me know in the comments.

Ten Taxonomy Myths

The Montague Institute offers ten myths that need to be dispelled before embarking on a taxonomy project. They've got a *really* broad definition of taxonomy (think "classification system") but the myths are still useful to deflate before your client or boss goes taxonomy-happy.

How to create a Controlled Vocabulary

Over at Boxes and Arrows, Karl Fast, Fred Leise, and Mike Steckel deliver a great "how-to" tutorial on creating controlled vocabularies. It's one thing to talk about how great CVs are, it's even better to show how to build them.

Card-based Classification Evaluation method

Donna Maurer shares her technique for evaluating classification schemes over at Boxes and Arrows. Ten minutes from twenty users means that it's pragmatic, and it addresses classification specifically, instead of being part of a prototype with other issues to evaluate. Here's what you need to do this kind of evaluation:

  • A proposed classification system or proposed changes to an existing system. Some uncertainty, mess, and duplication are OK.
  • A large set of scenarios that will cover information-seeking tasks using the classification.
  • A pile of index cards and a marker.
  • Someone to scribe for you.

Looks great - thanks Donna!

IA Summit Presentations

The PowerPoint presentations for the IA Summit are being collected on the conference site - look for the "PowerPoint Presentation" link by the name of the talk.

Also, the Asilomar Institute has posted the presentations and rough notes from its preconference seminar.

I've also added this to the earlier IA Summit summaries collection post, which has a bunch of other goodies.

IA Education Mailing List

The IA Education mailing list is an open, unmoderated list for discussing topics related to information architecture education. Educators, students, and other interested individuals are welcome to join.

IA Summit 2003

Well, Portland was amazing. Ignoring the riot troops headquarted at the conference hotel and the helicopters overhead, the conference proceeded without much worry.

Trip reports and commentary from:

The PowerPoint presentations for the IA Summit are being collected on the conference site - look for the "PowerPoint Presentation" link by the name of the talk.

Also, the Asilomar Institute has posted the presentations and rough notes from its preconference seminar.

Presentations for the IA Tools panel.
(if you find others, post them in the comments and I'll add them here)

IA Summit Blogging

A request for Summit Attendees: If you've got field reports from the IA Summit, it would be great if you could post links in the comments here. Thanks!

Also, I just ran into Adam and Joshua's Community IA Summit Blog. I set up a CHIBlog for 2001, and while it didn't get as much participation as I'd hoped, I had a lot of fun. I think collaborative conference blogging has great potential, and hope to see some interesting insights from attendees...whether it's a link to your own site in the comments, posting on the Summit community blog, or otherwise.

I'm off to Portland tomorrow, so providing I clear customs I hope to see many of you there. Blogging will be intermittent at best 'til Tuesday next week.

The SIGIA Highlight Reel

This week saw an increase in volume, but an unfortunate majority of that is part of a tedious, ongoing 'defining the damn thing' discussion. Fortunately, we did see a boost in shop talk, as encouraged by Marc Rettig last week.

  • My favorite post of the week is from Jeff Lash and John O'Donovan for Best Practices for Recurring Payments Thanks for the great, concrete examples and real world shop talk!
  • Jeff Isom asked about ways of Labelling a PDF Archive and got a lot of interesting responses. I hope he lets us know how things actually shake out on his project, so we can see how the flurry of opinion helped.
  • Chiara Fox chimed in with a simple answer to a simple question. The reason it's a gem is because it's actually based on a real project!
  • For those of you interested in defining the damn thing,
    Christina Wodtke added to the list of first principles that was started earlier in the week by yours truly. While there was additional useful resonse, I'll leave it as an exercise for the masochis... err... enthusiastic to follow that thread and sort the signal from the noise ;-)
  • Finally, to close off with some more pragmatic, concrete contributions: Livia Labate articulates parts of the IA Toolkit, and Eric Scheid shares experiences with free-listing as an alternative/addition to card sorting.

Of course, you might have other posts that really helped you during the week. Post 'em in the comments.

Banking redesign case study

frog design has a case study about goal-oriented navigation and small iterative usability tests applied to redesign Credit Suisse private banking.

Exapanding on the Elements of User Experience.

Just over one years old, Boxes and Arrows continues to kick out great content. This week we have Expanding the Approaches to User Experience by George Olsen. Here George takes Jesse James Garrett’s The Elements of User Experience diagram (PDF) and expands upon it to include interactive multimedia. It's an interesting read, I'm sure to be a bit controversial, but I think he makes some good points. I'd love to hear what others think about this.

The SIGIA Highlight Reel

This week's hightlights from SIGIA, the central IA discussion list:

Unfortunately, posts like the shop talk Marc is looking for were rare this week...we'll see next week how things went.

NY IA salon: books we love

NY IA salon: books we love - At Peter's place last night, this month's information architecture salon guests brought some of their favorite books to show or share...

I'm still struck by the fact that to get beyond first principles, we must range far and wide across disciplines. And I'm curious - what book faves do iaslash readers have? Post 'em in the comments.

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