Local "Chapters": Grassroots Organizing

As a start, a listing of local groups (ideally something better than what we've done in the ACIA Community area) would be useful.

It might be just as important to provide information describing how to set up a local group, where to advertise, what sorts of activities one might conduct, etc.

Additionally, templated space on a community web server might be helpful to give local groups more incentive to get the word out.

Posted by Louis Rosenfeld at November 01, 2001 05:00 PM

I'm a big fan of local groups. You don't need to travel hundreds or thousands of miles anymore to find like-minded folks. I live near Ann Arbor and in the last several months have attended a startup SIG-IA called Great Lakes Information Architecture (GLIA). We meet at Wayne State University on the first Tuesday of each month. I have also attended MOCHI, a related reading roundtable, and the local Michigan ASIS&T. Though my dance card is now getting a bit full, I'm always interested in more groups like these. For example, a local UPA chapter may be starting up in my area soon. Each one is a little different and hosted by organizations with different values. It's fun to get the cross pollination of attending different types of groups.... and not be required to pay the bucks for the big conference events. Another benefit is getting the chance to practice presenting case studies and research in front of small groups before seeking a larger venue. I think that one useful service that THIS site could provide would be to collect information on all kinds of local groups and their activities (not just a listing of all the groups with one affiliation, like ASIS&T/SIG-IA).

Posted by Chris Farnum at November 12, 2001 8:18 PM

This is a great service to have for those of us who are working on getting a local chapter, or IA group organized. I apologize if this message is out of the focus of this message board... but I think it's the right place!

We are trying to get a group organized in NYC but we are having trouble finding a quiet location. The current security issues prevents companies to be open to outsiders, especially after hours. Meeting at bars is fun but it limits the number of people we can talk to, and our discussions.

It would be very useful to have information about the kinds of activities we could conduct, as well as how to get a meeting space.

Are there any suggestions? Thanks.

Posted by Berna Tural at November 14, 2001 6:12 PM

It's definitely a good idea to post and discuss local group issues here!

Also, consider getting your local group (or your intent to start one) here: ACIA Community page.

Posted by Lou Rosenfeld at November 19, 2001 12:30 PM

I've been collecting notes from my experiences creating the IA cocktail hour in Charlotte and would like to share them with the group; am not sure if it would be better to do that here or in the wiki (or perhaps both?). Any thoughts?


Posted by Samantha Bailey at November 19, 2001 2:57 PM

Good question; how about trying both and seeing which makes more sense? That'd end up being an interesting experiment, and perhaps you could report back what worked better.

Posted by Lou Rosenfeld at November 19, 2001 6:23 PM

I'd recommend on the wiki if the end result is some form of timeless document (eg. a collected wisdom). If OTOH it's a passing commentary which should expire in due course, then a blog would be better suited.

I've already got some notes started on IAwiki:CocktailHours/Advice

Posted by Eric Scheid at November 27, 2001 4:25 PM

Jess posted some great ideas:


Hi all,

As part of the larger info-arch.org effort I'm going to be working to create templated space for local cocktail hours.

Right now I'm planning on including:
* blog (with multiple authors so everyone can contribute to their local group's blog)
* blog aggregator (to funnel posts from local blogs to a larger site - likely IAslash - and to do some cool social network things)
* calendar
* shared reading list we can all contribute to...

Other thoughts? Want to help?


Jess McMullin

Posted by Lou Rosenfeld at December 11, 2001 3:38 PM

How to Start A Local IA Cocktail Hour (draft)

*the following is an excerpt from a message I sent to someone inquiring how I got started setting up the Charlotte IA cocktail hour; I fully intend to flesh this out and make it more generalized, but since it’s taking me so long to get to that, I thought I’d share this version here, in case it’s of use to anyone as-is.

Before I began I checked the ACIA list of local IA groups to see if there
was one in the area; I was thinking I might be able to piggy-back on a
Chapel Hill group. There wasn't one, so I started out by sending a general
message to the sig-ia group (I was moving to Charlotte, so I didn't have any
contacts or network there). I'll paste the various messages I've sent out
below to give you an idea of what I've done. The sig-ia msg generated about
5 responses and I began email conversations with those folks, particularly
asking them to refer me to other people they knew in the area who might be
interested--that began to create a chain that I followed up with inquiries
and a "survey" to further assess interest. I've probably had about 1/4-1/3
of the people I've contacted reply, some expressing interest that seems
quite strong and others more tepid.

Once I started working at First Union I did the same thing there; because
I'm the first formal/official IA they've hired I didn't get tons of response
there, but I did generate a bit more interest.

I also contacted Lou Rosenfeld (lou@louisrosenfeld.com) and asked him to add
my name and contact info. to the ACIA list of groups (argus-acia.com). There
are two parts to the list--existing groups and people looking to form
groups; I decided to just go ahead and form a group here. To my knowledge,
no one has contacted me as result of this link, but I think it's important
to be listed there as it's more or less the only clearinghouse of info about
IA groups.

Once I looked at the surveys to get a sense of days/times etc that it seemed
would work best I reserved a table for 10 (no real idea if this is an over
or under estimation...I suspect it's an over-estimate, but I'm going to be
an optimist in this endeavor) at a local bar (it will be interesting to see
if we lean more in the bar or coffee house direction for meetings--no one
was really excited about the idea of meeting at offices, as I think people
want to be able to let their hair down a bit from the workday routine). Then
I sent a second message to the sig-ia group announcing the meeting and an
individual message to everyone on my list.

And now I wait. ;) My expectation is that the first meeting will be pretty
organizational--I'm hoping that we will brainstorm a bit about topics we
want to discuss, also generate ideas about local companies who might have
IAs that we should contact about joining and choose a specific topic to
cover for the next meeting so that the info I send out about that meeting
can be pretty specific and will generate enthusiasm. I'm going to take name
tag stickers to the meeting and a sign-in sheet to gather accurate info.

I have heard from people in Greensboro (enough that I decided to start by
calling the group Charlotte-Greensboro) but also from Chapel Hill. Depending
on how things go I might try to organize it so that people have local
meetings monthly and then we all get together quarterly to cut down on
driving time; guess that will just depend on interest and numbers. People
from Charlotte don't seem like they are very enthusiastic about driving to

first msg to sig-ia:

> I am relocating to Charlotte, NC and am interested in meeting up with
> IAs practicing in Charlotte or nearby. I would love to join (or start) an
> group in Charlotte--I've poked around a bit and it doesn't look like one
> exists at the moment. If you're an IA type (or know one) in the Charlotte
> area and are interested in welcoming a displaced Argonaut, I'd love to
> you. Please get in touch with me off-list. Thanks!

survey msg:

I am interested in forming a group of local professionals interested in
information architecture, interaction design and usability to get together
on a monthly basis to socialize, discuss topics and share information. I
have several contacts from Charlotte & Greensboro who have expressed an
interest in this idea (I posted to the SIG-IA listserv about it before
moving to Charlotte) and I definitely want to get folks from First Union
involved from the start. I'm including you in this mailing because I think
you'll probably be interested; if not, just delete this. If you know of
anyone else who might be, please forward this message and/or let me know. If
you *are* interested, please complete my mini-survey below. Thanks!

1) Do you prefer meeting on weeknights or weekends?
1a) Which days/times?
1b) Any day/time that is absolutely impossible?

2) If the group met alternate months in Charlotte & Greensboro would you be
willing to go to Greensboro for meetings?

3) Would you prefer to meet in a:
a) bar/restaurant
b) coffee shop
c) office conference room
d) other (please specify)

4) What kind of format would you prefer? The San Francisco group spends
30-40 minutes socializing and then discusses some kind of topic or has a
presentation/special guest, etc. That generally works, but sometimes they
find that most of the time gets eaten up socializing *or* there is pressure
to get to "work" and there isn't enough time for low key chatting. The Ann
Arbor group alternates meetings, one session is just for socializing and
talking with whomever about whatever (presumably IA/ID/usability related)
and the next session is set aside for more focused, disciplined discussion
around a specific topic. Would you prefer:
a) half and half
b) alternate
c) other (please specify)

5) What topics are you interested in discussing and/or learning more about?
Please indicate.

6) Are there topics you'd like to give a presentation on or lead a
discussion concerning? Please indicate.

7) If you have colleagues/contacts I should get in touch with about this
group, please provide their name/contact info.

Anything else?

Thanks! I'll get back to you soon with details about our first meeting


mtg announcemement:
What: Charlotte-Greensboro IA Cocktail Hour
When: Wednesday, September 26th, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Where: Ri-Ra, the Irish Pub located at 208 N. Tryon
St, Charlotte, NC
Contact info: Samantha Bailey,

Please join us to kick-off a meeting of the minds that
promises to be both fun and intellectually
stimulating. Interested parties include folks from
Vialogix, Seurat, Symetri, Bank of America, and First
Union/Wachovia among others; all are welcome and
encouraged to join us! We'll introduce ourselves, sort
out future plans regarding structure and meeting
places and identify topics for upcoming meetings (as
well as decide what the heck to call ourselves).

Please pass this message along to anyone you know in
the area who is interested in and/or practicing
information architecture, interactions design or
related user-centered web design.

RSVP (I'd love to get a headcount) or just show up.

Samantha Bailey

Posted by samantha bailey at December 13, 2001 8:10 PM

Local groups sound like a very interesting idea, specially from a perspective from someone living in a country where IA is not well understood as the US. I live in Brazil and so far, have met but half a dozen people who consider themselves as Information Architects.

I would very much like to start a local group but I would already be very happy with an online group in Portuguese (as this is a big country and we are spread out). I sent an email to someone in Rio listed on Argus' list, but never got a reply.

If anyone has any suggestions on how I could encourage people to get together, I would appreciate. I am also participating in AIFIA's effort to translate/internationalize IA, so if you know of anyone, please send them to http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/aifia-translation. Thanks!

Posted by Livia Labate at February 25, 2003 1:41 AM

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