Professional Association of IAs: Good Idea?
Ultimately I don't see a professional association as a good goal, at least not for the next few years; here are my reasons:
Speaking of which, what about ASIS&T? In a nutshell, ASIS&T is most definitely "good people," but remains a volunteer organization that is focused on serving the needs of a different audience (information scientists) with only some overlap with information architects. Additionally, ASIS&T is good at providing "traditional" professional association services (e.g., group rates on life insurance); however, it has less ability to take advantage of today's technologies (for example, the SIGIA-L archive has not been running properly for several months).
More importantly, information architects should question the approach of allying with any established association (and, indeed, any established field). Close alliance with information science may alienate those who come from other backgrounds, such as the STC crowd (technical communication), CHI (human factors), AIGA (visual design), and so on.
This is a huge risk, and probably not worthwhile.
Organizational Structure: Who, What, and Where Should We Be?
We will need to determine a logical structure for our efforts, assuming we need some structure at all.
First, it's not clear if we need to centralize any aspect of the work described in this site. This work could continue to happen independently and organically. If we decide to collaborate and possibly centralize, there needs to be a compelling reason to do so.
Or we may decide that this centralization takes the shape of an "umbrella web site" that ties together our projects. Or an organization that is positioned and funded to advocate on the field's behalf. Or something else altogether.
Another way to think about this issue of organizational structure is to think backward. What would be the ideal structure to have? When would it be realistic to achieve it? One year? Five years? Pick a date, then work backward, prioritizing along the way. Phases will fall out of this process, helping us determine where to start.permalink | Comments (1)
Decision Making: Who Gets a Say?
In the near term, we may wish to not formalize decision-making, which might be overly ambitious anyway.
Instead perhaps we should act as independent teams working on individual projects (e.g., a team dedicated to fixing the SIGIA-L archive, another building a job site). If we can start doing this, we should also make sure we communicate to each other what we're doing. What's the best mechanism to make sure this communication happens?
I ultimately hope we do not recreate the traditional professional association. In this post-Web world, we can replace bureaucracy with communications technologies to some degree.permalink | Comments (1)
Funding and Resources: What do We Need, How Will We Pay for It, and
Financial and other resource needs obviously will depend on just what exactly we want to do. I've already gone out and purchased the domain name "info-arch.org," and set it up with a virtual host at pair.com. I'm willing to donate this to the cause.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are a whole host of services we may need, ranging from professional services (i.e., lawyers to set up corporate entity, accountants and bookkeepers, conference organizers) to web development services (programming, coding, IA, visual design). And probably some more; what else?
To come up with the money to pay for these, there are a number of business models that are worth considering, but none are obvious. Potential business models include:
Participation Models: Money and/or Attention?
At least initially it will be hard to make a case for financial support from individuals in the community, many of whom are already shelling out for other associations' dues or are unemployed. This might change in the future when we've established some valuable services, but for now it's probably not worth the bother of trying to collect dues.
And it's important not to forget that many efforts at building community infrastructure are already underway. IA Slash and the IA wiki are just two great examples. What would be the best way to get the owners of these projects to begin coordinating their efforts?permalink | Comments (1)
Member Services: What Does Joe Information Architect Want?
What do information architects really want? We need to do some market research. Anyone care to create a survey?
My assumption is that conventional professional association offerings, like discounted health insurance and low rate credit cards, would probably not be attractive to information architects who could easily find them elsewhere. But I may be wrong. In any case, we should probably perform a basic market research survey of practitioners' needs.permalink | Comments (2)
Relationships and Partnerships: With Whom?
There are a number of relationships for us to consider, including:
Implementation: Moving Forward
Whatever we dream of doing, ultimately we need a plan for getting things done, especially with designing and developing the one or more web sites that will be needed to serve the community.
Ideally we could solicit groups of volunteers to handle the fundamentals of the process, including:
Does anyone know of models for distributed voluntary collaboration that have worked elsewhere?
More importantly, do you want to step up to the plate?permalink | Comments (2)