will the real information architect please stand up?

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There has been a lot of discussion over the years about what exactly information architecture is. These "Defining The Damned Thing (DTDT)" conversations have been primarily around the What, rather than the Who. But who are these people? Where do they come from? And why? I am collecting IA "stories" and will be posting them in an extended deck soon. If you are an IA and want to share your story, please contact me at gail@gl-ue.com. This presentation was part of the Refresh Events (http://www.refresh-events.ca/) speaker series in Toronto.

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  • November 17 2008 Gladstone Hotel, Toronto Will the real information architect please stand up?
  • Who are you? Information Architects? Creative Directors Designers? Project Managers? Developers? Writers? Other? Why are you here? Meet other IAs? Find an IA? Be an IA? Stop being an IA? Other?
  • This is the part where I explain that the title of this presentation comes from an old American TV show called To Tell The Truth. No one in the audience seemed to know what I was referring to (blank, but polite stares all around) so I attempted to act it out - mugging as 3 different people all claiming to be Information Architects. Since I cant do my improv for you online (consider yourself lucky!) you can watch this. About the title
  • A lot of people claim to be information architects
  • But are they real information architects? Usability Specialist Interaction Designer Art Director Front-end Developer Flash Developer Software Architect Copywriter Technical Writer Content Specialist Project Manager Account Planner Analyst
  • Real IAs Who are they? What do they do? Why do they do it? Whats next? Where are they from?
  • Did you think that that mock flowchart was a totally lame and gratuitously gimmicky way to organize the topics in this presentation?
  • Youre probably a Real IA
  • There has been a lot of discussion over the years about what exactly information architecture is. These Defining The Damned Thing (DTDT) conversations have been primarily around the What, rather than the Who. But who are these people? Where do they come from? Why are they often crossing over from other disciplines, abandoning the comforts of an established professional identity, to become the synthesizers, connectors and interpreters - sometimes referred to as glue people - whose reward for doing a good job is often that their contribution seems so inevitable that becomes invisible? And how long can they be satisfied with what is prematurely congealing into the role of "wireframer?" How can they leverage their previous experience, education and interests to offer more value to their projects and teams? And, finally, what is the career path for an information architect? What's next after IA?
  • There has been a lot of discussion over the years about what exactly information architecture is. These Defining The Damned Thing (DTDT) conversations have been primarily around the What, rather than the Who. But who are these people? Where do they come from? Why are they often crossing over from other disciplines, abandoning the comforts of an established professional identity, to become the synthesizers, connectors and interpreters - sometimes referred to as glue people - whose reward for doing a good job is often that their contribution seems so inevitable that becomes invisible? And how long can they be satisfied with what is prematurely congealing into the role of "wireframer?" How can they leverage their previous experience, education and interests to offer more value to their projects and teams? And, finally, what is the career path for an information architect? What's next after IA? Defining The Damned Thing (DTDT)
  • History of Information Architecture Information architecture has its roots in pre-digital methods of structuring information for various uses & environments.
  • First Came the Pre-digital Influences Library Science Directories, classification systems, indices Architecture Sketches, blueprints, floorplans, elevations Communication Design Layouts, infographics, typesetting, copywriting Environmental Design Wayfinding, signage, urban planning Industrial Design Affordances, ergonomics, human factors Education & Instructional Design Outcome-based learning, behavioral psychology Engineering Systems and network design Marketing Focus groups, consumer research
  • The term information architecture was coined by Richard Saul Wurman
  • Mr. Wurmans Definition The individual who organizes patterns inherent in data, making the complex clear A person who creates the structure or map of information which allows others to find their personal paths to knowledge The emerging 21st century professional occupation addressing the needs of the age - focused on clarity, human understanding and the science of the organization of information
  • Then Came the Digital Influences Computers and Software Originally for hobbyists and "nerds" or used as specialist tools for business and industry, computers and software become mainstream. The Web The internet starts out as a data network, but mark-up languages enable the emergence of the Web as a communications channel and display medium.
  • Dot.com
  • ~ http://iainstitute.org/
  • The IAI Definition The structural design of shared information environments The art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities and software to support findability and usability An emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape ~ http://iainstitute.org/
  • That Word visit That Word
  • That Word ...the perpetual need to define once and for all what we do when in fact it changes as the environment (social, tech, user, informational, business, markets etc.) changesit isnt about what we do, its about how we think ~ Added on September 17 by v visit That Word
  • That Word The practice of using tricks, mostly group exercises with funny, semi-scientific names, and documents, mostly ugly pictures of websites, to help everyone agree on what were building. ~ Added on September 16 by Peter visit That Word
  • That Word 1. A practice of aligning tiny bits according to some vague theory or another by fastidious yet slightly insecure designer types who must wear rectangular eyeglasses. 2. A rigorous, nearly scientific, method of ordering other designers work into a comprehensible pattern or sequence for users to consume. Usually against the others designers wishes. 3. Curb-painters trying to bring order to the information superhighway (now more popularly known as the intertubes.) ~ Added on September 14 by Horatio Trigger visit That Word
  • There has been a lot of discussion over the years about what exactly information architecture is. These Defining The Damned Thing (DTDT) conversations have been primarily around the What, rather than the Who. But who are these people? Where do they come from? Why are they often crossing over from other disciplines, abandoning the comforts of an established professional identity, to become the synthesizers, connectors and interpreters - sometimes referred to as glue people - whose reward for doing a good job is often that their contribution seems so inevitable that becomes invisible? And how long can they be satisfied with what is prematurely congealing into the role of "wireframer?" How can they leverage their previous experience, education and interests to offer more value to their projects and teams? And, finally, what is the career path for an information architect? What's next after IA? Who are these people? Where do they come from?
  • ~ B. Kliban Whenever I meet a fellow IA we inevitably engage in what my friend Paula Thornton describes as the story exchange. IAs are nothing if not curious (and a bit skeptical) - especially about each other - so we like to know what people did before they were IAs, what led them to it and why, how long they have been doing it, and for/with whom.
  • A very unscientific study When did you decide to be an IA? Why? What were you before you became an IA? If you used to be an IA, what are you now?
  • Who are these people? Technical Editors Advertising Copywriters Translators Web Developers Project Managers Writers Editors Artists Graphic Designers Software Developers Musicians Programmers Teachers Instructional Designers Content Developers Bookbinders PREVIOUS ROLES
  • Where do they come from? Automotive Journalism Aerospace Law Psychology TV Music Audio-visual Production Document Management Civil Service Management Sales Software Publishing INDUSTRIES
  • Where do they come from? English Literature Creative Writing Non-fiction Writing Japanese Fine Art Ad