An open discussion among Information Architects

An open discussion among Information Architects
Apr 26th, 2010

Thanks to Boxes And Arrows and the work of Jeff Parks I have synced up my slides from my talk “The Commoditization & Fragmentation of the Information Architecture Community” at the IA Summit 2010 with their podcast so you can follow along.  The audio is a little difficult to follow at the start (you won’t be able to hear some of the discussion points from the audience) but thanks to Jared Spool‘s help with running the mic around to everyone, we were able to get better audio a little ways in to the discussion.  Here are a few of the highlights…

These are just some of the points that I felt really defined this discussion for me personally. Peter Morville’s points on the future of IA and the opportunity of exploring service design and ubiquitous computing.  I am glad he made these comments, as it gives me clarity and insight into my increasing interest in these areas.  Andrew Hinton’s points about making people’s lives easier.  If nothing else, this is why I do what I do.  Lou Rosenfeld’s comments on defending the role and belonging of the wireframer.  This really needed to be said as I felt the veterans in the room are at a place in their careers where its not about wireframes, but someone still has to do the wireframes.  And lastly, Richard Saul Wurman’s comments at the closing of the discussion which I will paraphrase the key takeaways here:

I don’t think in terms of wireframes… I don’t think in terms of Information Architecture, I think in terms of understanding.  I’m interested in understanding things that interest me and I am interested in the systemic rigger of being able to explain.  I’m interested in communicating with another human being ...and I am doing it with rigor and responsibility, and that is what information architecture is.  It’s not the modality, not the particular technology… it’s just making yourself understandable.

— Richard Saul Wurman, IA Summit 2010

We get so caught up in the tools, technology, and deliverables that we sometimes forget what value we actually provide to the team and a project.  While there will always be a need to find tools and techniques for streamlining communication, I feel we need to get back to the core value we provide; explaining the problem set and helping define and create an optimal the solution through collaboration with other skilled professionals.  One attendee said it best when she suggested that we are the glue that holds everyone together.

About the author

Nick Finck is a user experience professional who has dabbled in the web for over a decade. He specializes in information architecture, interaction design, usability and user research. Read more

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