SIGIA-L Mail Archives: RE: SIGIA-L: What do IAs need to know?
RE: SIGIA-L: What do IAs need to know?
From: Adam Polansky (Adam.Polansky_at_raremedium.com)
Date: Thu Feb 15 2001 - 11:53:22 EST
Information Architecture involves the intrinsic attribute of "empathy" I am
constantly horrified by the idea that a solution that involves genuine
interaction with humans can come out of a box! This thinking has affected
teaching where teachers and cirriculum developers employ "Student optional"
approaches that cover material but they don't observe how or if students
grasp the concepts being taught. Humans are predictable in some ways but the
attribute of spontaneity is always there and you have to be able to react
and incorporate what you find when it happens.
While the books are out there and the discussion forums like this one are
out there, You can't learn all about IA from a book. You might understand
it, but just as reading the instructions for a new camera doesn't make you a
photographer, reading about IA doesn't make you one. You have to have
certain propencities. Such as an ability to distill information from a large
body of knowledge and communicate it to any audience in terms that they
understand. This takes empathy.
The IA, along with other people in the development process have to employ an
empathetic understanding not only of their users and client but of the
actual stakeholders at the table, they have to understand what a user will
do with the information presented to them without relying solely on a mass
of empirical data which, under the best of circumstances, constitutes a
snap-shot of usage patterns.
Striking the balance with client business objectives and marketing goals on
one side and user needs and goals on the other is tough to quantify. It
relies upon the experience and intuition of the team. Put that in a box and
I'll be the first to sign up for Beta testing!
I'm fortunate to work in an environment where the different disciplines work
well together and respect what each group brings to the mix. But I have had
to contend with those who think that elegant code equals useful code
therefore "why do we need IAs and Visual Designers". I've been on projects
where I saw the less technical efforts dismissed and I got to stick around
long enough to see the techs get *ss in a crack because people couldn't USE
their UI. We're two inseperable sides of one brain.
Situational observation and the intagible, human aspects of creating
something that crosses the lines between art and science simply require
humans to do the work!
Feed your head but do the work!
Adam Polansky : : Senior Information Architect
Rare Medium : : Dallas
2207 Commerce Street
Dallas TX 75201
vox 214.742.7273 x255
From: Darryn Sneller [mailto:darryns_at_hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 15, 2001 9:44 AM
To: jjg_at_jjg.net; sigia-l_at_asis.org
Subject: Re: SIGIA-L: What do IAs need to know?
I see your point about diminishing returns. Usually, though, that point
doesn't occur until a field is so well defined that all additions to it
become marginally valuable. Has that point been reached for IA?
Do you think that software can automate any IA deliverables? We have
software that designs other software, so I guess I don't understand 'in
principle' why portions of IA can't be automated. In a variety of other
fields, automation has freed up practitioners to perform even higher
'value-added' activities. I guess I'm just waiting for someone to explain to
me why IAs should be exempt from automation. Not that anyone has to, but it
is still a question in my mind.
I think my bigger question about technology and IA isn't whether an IA
should 'generally' know how to debug Perl. However, if that Perl script is
used in the context of automating some IA function, like creating a
thesaurus or assigning metadata to XML content, why shouldn't the IA be able
to debug it?
Perhaps going forward there will be different 'schools' of IA, just like in
physical architecture, each operating from different assumptions of how IA
fits into the overall process of creating web sites and what tools IAs
should be using.
>In my experience, "knowledge" is nowhere near as important as
>"know-how". I have seen an IA with nothing more than instinct run
>circles around one who's read all the "right" books. So, yes, the
>amount of necessary knowledge *is* awfully thin -- because it doesn't
>take all that much knowledge to do this job well.
>But with all of these areas -- including technology -- you have to
>know where to draw the line. There's a point at which diminishing
>returns set in, where you're investing more and more effort for less
>and less in the way of useful knowledge. Does an IA need to be able
>to debug a Perl script? No. But you ought to know what the technology
>can and can't do, or else you'll get burned by making impractical (or
>simply impossible) recommendations.
>Jesse James Garrett http://www.jjg.net/
>jjg_at_jjg.net "the history of the future begins now"
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:54:31 EST