SIGIA-L Mail Archives: SIGIA-L: various ramblings
SIGIA-L: various ramblings
From: Eric Reiss (reiss_at_cbc.dk)
Date: Wed Apr 26 2000 - 11:12:14 EDT
Not to start any fights, but I just thought Iíd throw in my 2-cents about
a number of things Iíve been pondering since the Boston conference.
What weíre called
Does it really matter what we call ourselves? And must we really draw the
architecture analogy out to the Nth degree? (Architects donít fix leaky
roofs, contractors do etc. etc.) The fact is, what an IA specifically does
and needs to know, depends entirely on the kind of organization this
person is working for and the kind of work being done (structuring a
website, creating a database, cataloging a library, whatever). One title?
Several different titles? Hereís some food for thought:
My car mechanic only works on one particular make and claims he cannot fix
a Ford. Does this make him any less of a mechanic? I think not.
Titles (like labels) always depend on proper contex. Iím an author to my
publisher, a husband to my wife, a designated driver to the drunks in the
back seat -- and frequently (though not exclusively), Iím an IA to the
business-to-business clients I work with at an advertising agency here in
Copenhagen. Honestly, I hope the quality of my work has greater
professional impact than the quality of my title.
What we need to know
I think Bill Horton mentioned that Rolls-Royce vastly underestimated the
potential market for automobiles because they assumed people would always
need chauffeurs. Not so long ago, only secretaries used word-processors,
now even my ham-fisted boss has learned to type. And to think that
information architecture, particularly for the WWW, is going to remain in
the hands of computer specialists and/or librarians is probably naive.
99% of all websites are basically marketing tools, yet not once did I hear
anyone in Boston list an understanding of marketing among the numerous
abilities needed by a budding IA. How odd since this was the underlying
message in many of the presentations -- Mark Hurstís excellent review of
the Gateway site immediately comes to mind.
When I say marketing, I donít mean banner ads. I mean that most websites
have a specific target audience and a specific product, service, or
message that the site owner wants to promote or communicate. The Yale med
school site (among other objectives) markets their services to people
looking for good heath care. The Encyclopedia Britannica site promotes
their knowledge database to people looking for specific facts or
entertainment in the Trivial Pursuit vein. And yes, one could argue that
even the Shoah site is a marketing venture in that it features these two
key ingredients -- a target audience and a clear message.
My point? Iím willing to bet that half of the people attending the ASIS
2005 Information Architecture conference will have gone to B-school.
Some other random thoughts
Why do so many IAs insist on using the word metaphor when they actually
mean analogy? We have so many good synonyms for analogy, but precious few
for metaphor -- why misuse such a valuable word? I think it's high time we
broke this bad habit.
Why are so many postings from this group being quoted at length without
reference to the original author? How rude.
Why is the architecture of the Boston presentations on the ASIS site so
atrocious? Delve into any of the PowerPoint presentations and youíll have
a helluva time getting back to the menu. "Physician, heal thyself!" At
the very least, these slide shows ought to open in a new browser window.
Does anyone know of a decent Visio-type drawing tool for the Mac? Iím sick
of my lousy version of Inspiration.
Thanks for reading this far. Now Iíll shut up.
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