SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] "Artful Making"
Re: [Sigia-l] "Artful Making"
From: Derek R (lists_at_derekrogerson.com)
Date: Thu Nov 13 2003 - 06:20:03 EST
..| If only on this list we more often practiced
..| "Recognizing, marking, and transforming
..| pregnant moments of friction and collision
..| into opportunities for breakthroughs" rather
..| that simple fighting
I would point out, Christina, that, (as you suggest), first one must
'recognize' moments of friction which means you do not ignore others.
Simply plugging one's ears, closing ones eyes, and singing tra-la-la
does not engage the moment. One must be willing to have a dialog if one
wishes opportunity to arise. Avoidance, running-away, shunning, or
otherwise creating a fantasy-land for one's self are unlikely candidates
for successful recognition to be transformed into breakthroughs.
For instance, would you care to discuss 'findability?' It's the primary
theme of your organization (AIfIA) yet it is nothing more than
marketese-speak. The source of this non-sense is an article published by
you. The article has nothing to say about it's topic. (see for yourself
http://boxesandarrows.com/archives/002595.php) Care to recognize this
moment of friction?
Would you care to discuss 'site maps?' You, yourself, have recently
suggested they "help a lost or confused user find". I have suggested
that, like the marketer, you are only interested in
what-you-are-peddling. I would call it 'deliverable-IA' which is
obsessed with 'helping.' Your method is to convince someone that what
they 'need' is the addition of your 'help' instead of what they were
looking for! This way you can take credit for 'helping' them!
(As a point of friction) There is a tiger-and-rock game many IAs are
playing. There is this idea of the 'additional/supplemental' which many
IAs hold very dear. There is this idea that (like in a traditional
library) there must be some 'system' or 'person of authority' standing,
*as addition,* between the user and the content (ie. standing in-between
the user and what the user wants). It is not enough to make things
available (ie. usable) -- no -- for this brand of IA there *must be*
some kind of 'help' always there to take credit for any 'find'; there
must always be a 'helper' standing in-between. It is very much like
tigers and rocks. You are selling rocks to keep away tigers. So the
buyer (caveat emptor!) has to carry this rock around *in addition* to
their current circumstance. In other words, the buyer/user wants
something and it is available for them to have, yet you give them
something else (your help) and tell them this 'other thing' (ie. site
map, taxonomy, category, whatever) is what they REALLY wanted all along.
What a great help! Honestly, Christina, I think your brand of IA (the
polar-bear brand) suffers very much from a savoir-complex -- and the
trouble is you are *not* a savior; you are only selling rocks.
Now that leaves us in an empty place which just so happens to be the
same place we're in now which is a 'hole' in the conversation where one
person makes one claim and the other person (or persons) makes no
response. What does the rock-seller say to someone who claims a fallacy?
Would you say that site maps and 'findability' are about "systems that
help people find what they need?"
(http://www.aifia.org/pg/about_aifia.php - right pull-quote) I would of
course agree with that statement -- a 'system' which, no surprise,
*systematically* 'sells' the user a 'need' then proceeds to fulfill it
(ie. you want to avoid tigers? -- you don't need to avoid tigers, you
need this rock). Rocks and tigers. This is all classic marketing and has
nothing to do with Information Architecture.
As a further point of friction, I would remind people that architecture
is about creating 'a space' -- which is something a user can exist in.
Architecture is not a forced situation or a dependency-situation. It is
not about asking to purchase a blue raincoat and being told directions.
Why would I want directions when I asked for a blue raincoat?
Architecture should be about accomplishment. IA should not be about site
maps and proper vocabularies and categories of existence and
this-really-means-that and let-me-put-you-in-your-place and all of that
'help' just to fulfill some messiah-complex. That's an 'outside'
definition of what user goals are. It should be about creating a space
and making that space livable. It seems to me that with all these ideas
of 'helping' going on, IAs have become neurotic, and have begun to cling
to marketese like 'findability' to cater to their neurosis of 'helping.'
Here's a tip: users don't need your help neither do they want it. Users
want to do what they're doing, the way they're doing it, the way they
want it, and be left alone! Old Napster was the perfect example of an
architecture without the 'principle of rejection' (ie. no categories).
In other words it was livable! Many people called it a bona-fide
experience! This idea of 'help' and 'control' is a bad foundation for
IAs and is really just stealth-marketing. Users aren't dumb and already
understand this through the User Experience. 'Findability,' for
instance, can only ever mean just what it implies: the ability to create
a find (ie. the 'sale' -- a commercial ideal!!). For every
need/question/fear/doubt there is a product-line, right? Happy
marketing. (Too bad we never did information architecture.)
Be Well, Derek
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