I just discovered Appliance Studio, a company in Bristol UK dedicated to information appliance design. They have a straightfoward way of explaining what they call Applianceness summarized as ‘Successful appliances become everyday things, do one thing well, work well with other appliances, and reward their users with the sense of job done.’
Now we know what Tanya looks like.
With the 2003 IA Summit only weeks away, I’m remembering Peterme’s Future of Information Architecture piece penned following the 2001 Summit. Looking back on his ideas is fascinating to compare them to where we are now.
(I hasten to add that I’m not embarking on some hair-brained analysis of the accuracy of these predictions. Since we can’t really predict the future, I think predictions are useful instead as a vision to help us reconsider the future.)
The Spread of “Good IA”…the idea being that information architecture becomes an approach toward managing your information, a set of processes and methods undertaken by anyone. While we’re not there yet, core IA ideas from personas to metadata are spreading out from a small base to many more practitioners.
Data Analysis…the practice of information architecture will become increasingly informed by usage data… I fear this hasn’t become much more sophisticated that analyzing server logs. Though companies like NetRaker that combine remote usability and analysis could be seen as an alternate path to better data.
IA Playing Nice in the Sandbox…optimizing how these various [internet product development] disciplines interact will become of paramount importance…not sure if we can make any general statement about this yet. From my vantage point, there’s more interesting tension between IA and technologists than IA and other experience design disciplines. Partially because, as a friend of mine remarked, visual design is becoming a commodity (also see n_gen).
Library Science Impacts Agency Information Architecture…no question this has happened, but has far to go before both LIS ideas and practices are ingrained in most IAs.
Data-Driven Information Architecture…[reducing the] umpteen different formats used to express the same dataset. While I’ve seen examples that give hope, I’m inclined to think we’ll continue with umpteen formats until we’re all saving our work in compatible XML languages.
Professional Affiliations for Information Architecture…a likely outcome will be the development of a professional organization to represent the discipline. Of course with the launch of AIfIA he was proven right. He later added the focus should be a) research, b) curriculum development, and c) methodology development.
Further Specialization…this might have happened more if not for the economic downturn. As it is, I think most of us are instead learning more skills ourselves.
We are now blessed with the presence of Shareholder Value magazine. This while Shift and New Architect cease publication (in the latter case one might be tempted to ask, will Adaptive Path be relegated to publishing on their own site only? ;-). At least there’s Tekka, which may be more likely to succeed with low overhead, subscription income, and strong editing.
Peter is a little tired of how U.S.-centric the information architecture field can be, so he’s starting an AIfIA-sponsored initiative to do something about it. Get on the mailing list at http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/aifia-translation. Hopefully we’ll see some translations of seminal IA texts and more come from it.
While I paid a whopping $49 for my Sidekick you can now get one for free. Actually, if you do the math, they are paying you a penny to get it. In any case, I’ve had mine for a few weeks now and I’m quite happy.
I think one of the little pleasures of running open source software is the non-corporate tone of code comments and documentation, which can sometimes sound like this cool SysAdmin sitting you next to you in the data center, smoking a cigarette and reading The Economist…
Most of the features discussed in this article are only available to you if you are running Apache 1.2 or later. Of course, if you are not running Apache 1.2 or later, you need to upgrade immediately, if not sooner. Go on. Do it now. We’ll wait. [from the Apache docs]
Because we’ve made changes to Apache’s configuration file, we now need to restart Apache. The easiest way to do this is via our Sharing preference panel. Much like we started the sharing preference in part one of this series, we can stop and start to enable our changes. Do this now. Chuckle once or twice, if you must.
Redesigned: Cooper.com. Not sure how long this has been up, but it’s certainly worth a look to see what they think is a proper website.
It seems to me one of the big holes in our knowledge of information architecture, one of the main holes in fact, is how taxonomies become navigation. We’re starting to develop very good methods for arriving at taxonomies for modern websites, and we’re also getting better at determining what characteristics are apparent in successful navigation. But that junction of taxonomy and navigation still seems to be part of the black art of IA, the challenge of marrying the bottom-up to the top-down.
I’d like to try, and I’m starting to think about how it might be done. If you’ve seen this sort of thing done already please let me know. Thanks.
(I later realize Brett’s Ontology Development and Relationship Modeling for Enterprises and Enterprise Websites will discuss this. I’m not sure if it’ll be a general system that discusses various navigation schemes in relation to an ontology, but it’ll certainly act as one example.)
Also interesting that on Peterme’s sidebar he mentions as a current interest ‘figuring out how to marry top-down task-based information architecture processes with bottom-up document-based ones.’ I think this is one of the central issues in information architecture today.
I just stayed up late to conduct an over-the-phone usability test with someone in India, and then discovered NewsMonster, an ‘advanced weblog manager, reputation system, micropayment economy, and semantic web application.‘ I’ll have to investigate it more after a bit of sleep, but it makes my Blog Reader proposal look rather timid, and beat Nick’s Lafayette Project out of the gate. So far the examples I’ve seen in this genre have been user interfaces as an afterthought slapped on great networking ideas.
Another sometimes used, for example by the California Police:
Some of my Swedish friends from Razorfish are getting some attention for their work at Ocean Observations. I like this bit on their contact page: ‘You will find us in the western parts of Södermalm in Stockholm. In a former car repair shop on Heleneborgsgatan we sweat for our clients, try to make them happy with our solutions, and when visiting we bid them a great view of the island Långholmen which is our beautiful neighbour. If you give us some notice, homemade cakes and milkshakes will be served.‘ Sigh.